Cable Vet Borrelli Out at AOL

Cable veteran Lou Borrelli is stepping down from his role as senior vice president of broadband distribution and local promotion at AOL for Broadband amid a major restructuring at America Online Inc.

“When it was clear what the new management team was going to take in terms of a direction, at that point, I just volunteered to use this as an opportunity to make an early exit,” Borrelli said Wednesday.

Borrelli, a former Marcus Cable executive who joined AOL in May 2001, said he expects to leave the company during the first week of December.

Borrelli said Joe Cantwell will continue to oversee broadband distribution as VP and general manager of affiliate marketing and operations.

The move came a few weeks after AOL for Broadband president Lisa Hook announced her resignation. AOL also recently announced plans to restructure the company into four business units: Audience, Access, Digital Services and AOL Europe.

AOL has lost thousands of subscribers to high-speed-data services from cable MSOs and telcos, and the company has had difficulty striking distribution agreements with cable operators. The only two U.S. operators that distribute AOL to cable-modem customers are Bright House Networks and AOL corporate sibling Time Warner Cable.

But Borrelli noted that AOL has “relationships with virtually every MSO” through an online customer-service tool that provides AOL’s dial-up customers with the names of local operators that offer high-speed service and offers local operators sales leads.

He also pointed to the success of AOL Music on Demand, an on-demand music-video service distributed by several Time Warner Cable systems that is designed to market AOL for Broadband.

“I think AOL continues to be a terrific potential partner to distribution partners, whether that’s cable or DSL [digital subscriber line] or satellite or anybody,” Borrelli said.

Borrelli, 49, said he is considering a few new job opportunities, and he hopes to continuing working in a field that has ties to the cable industry.

Borrelli first began working in the cable industry in 1978, when he joined Westchester, N.Y.-based UA-Columbia Cablevision Inc., developing local programming.

After spending about nine years at UA, Borrelli teamed up with Jeff Marcus to help him launch Marcus Cable, where Borrelli was chief operating officer.

Marcus, which started off with 15,000 subscribers in Wisconsin in 1989, grew to 1.3 million customers in 22 states. It was the largest privately held cable MSO when Jeff Marcus sold the company to Paul Allen in 1998.