COO Bellville Leaves Charter

Charter Communications Inc. executive vice president and chief operating officer Margaret Bellville has resigned after less than two years on the job, the nation’s fourth-biggest MSO said last Friday.

Bellville, one of cable’s highest-ranking female operations executives, joined Charter on Dec. 4, 2002, as executive vice president of operations, after a short stint as CEO of based streaming-media provider Incanta Inc. She became COO about two weeks later, after predecessor Dave Barford was terminated for his part in an accounting scandal. Barford and former Charter chief financial officer Kent Kalkwarf were indicted on fraud charges in federal court in St. Louis in July 2003. Those charges are still pending.

Prior to Incana, Bellville spent six years at Cox Communications Inc., including about two years as COO, before resigning in January 2001. Her cable career began at Century Communications Corp. in 1993.

Bellville is the fourth senior Charter executive to resign in the past three months. Senior vice president of marketing and advertising sales Kip Simonson and senior vice president of Midwest operations Lee Clayton resigned in July.

Chief financial officer Michael Huseby left in August to become CFO at Cablevision Systems Corp.

“We have appreciated Maggie’s positive contributions over the past two years, and respect her decision to depart the company,” Charter CEO Carl Vogel said in a statement.

Charter spokesman Dave Mack said Bellville left on her own accord. He said it hasn’t been determined whether or not the company would seek a permanent replacement.

In the meantime, Bellville’s duties will be split among several executives.

Mike Lovett, senior vice president of Midwest division operations, has been promoted to executive vice president of operations and customer care, reporting to Vogel. Bellville’s other responsibilities will be split between senior vice president of marketing and sales Jim Heneghan; executive vice president of advanced services and business development Tom Cullen; and senior vice president of programming Sue Hamilton.

According to a Charter securities filing on Sept. 17, Bellville will receive a separation package equal to 65 weeks pay based on an annual salary of $625,000 (or about $780,000). Any stock options granted Bellville will continue to vest during the salary continuation period.

She also gets relocation expenses to a specified geographic area and outplacement services for six months after she leaves. Charter also waived a noncompete agreement in Bellville’s employment contract, meaning she can work for a rival cable or satellite company immediately.