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Charter CEO Vogel Resigns

Charter Communications Inc. CEO Carl Vogel has resigned and has been replaced by board member Robert May effective immediately, the fourth-largest cable company said Tuesday.

The board of directors and Vogel mutually agreed that Vogel should step down, the company said. His employment contract would have run out at the end of 2005.

A search committee has been formed and an executive recruiter will be hired, the MSO said.

May, a former Cablevision Systems Corp. executive, is currently chairman of HealthSouth Corp.

The move follows the resignation of several senior Charter executives over the past several months and rumors of Vogel’s possible departure. Charter’s share price declined about 48% in 2004 amid operational and size-of-debt concerns.

The MSO said that last September, its board of directors established a strategic planning committee to work closely with management to systematically review operations and identify areas of sustainable improvement.

It resulted in a plan to bolster operating and financial performance and to position the business for long-term success. It identified as near-term priorities the need to:

• Generate significant improvements in the overall customer experience in such critical areas as service delivery, customer care and new product offerings;

• Develop more sophisticated customer-management capabilities through investment in the company’s customer-care and marketing infrastructure, improved segment-level marketing and rigorous “test-and-learn” processes;

• Focus on the execution of smart growth strategies for new services, including digital simulcast, video-on-demand, Internet telephony and digital-video recorders;

• Move aggressively to fill critical personnel positions (Charter has a vacancy for chief operating officer, and the company needs to hire a permanent chief financial officer, May said); and

• Review the company’s overall organizational, incentive and compensation structure to ensure that it is consistent with and rewards excellent customer service.

Charter said that at Cablevision, May worked with McKinsey & Co. to develop an operational plan similar to the one it is implementing.

Chairman Paul Allen said in a statement: “Charter’s goal is to be the premier provider of in-home entertainment and communications in every market we serve. We are pleased that Bob May will share his knowledge and experience as our interim president and CEO and lead Charter through this period of change.”

Allen continued, “As a director, Bob is already familiar with Charter’s business and has an appreciation of our company’s strengths and its dedicated employees. His appointment provides leadership and stability while the management team and board work to implement a comprehensive operations-improvement program that will better position the company for growth.”