With a planned spin-off of its direct broadcast satellite unit and three national programming networks slated for the second half of the year, Cablevision Systems Corp. made some changes to its management structure last week, promoting former cable and communications division president Tom Rutledge to chief operating officer and tapping former Time Warner Cable executive John Bickham to fill the vacant spot.
Rutledge joined Cablevision in 2002 from Time Warner, and has overseen the Bethpage, N.Y.-based MSO's aggressive rebuild as it rolls out digital cable and telephone services.
But with that rebuild completed in December — a five-year process that involved upgrading 40,000 plant miles to 750-Megahertz capacity or better — Rutledge said it was time to focus his energies less on day-to-day operations and more on the company as a whole.
"I've been focusing on growing the cable business for the last several years," Rutledge said in an interview.
"We've spent a lot of time over the last five years rebuilding our entire cable platform in the New York metropolitan area and putting together a cable company, spinning off assets we had in other parts of the company and bringing all of our cable assets into the New York DMA, and then rebuilding the whole system. That is complete now."
Now, he'll be responsible for the cable operations, business-telephony unit Lightpath and several regional cable networks. He reports to CEO James Dolan, who'll become Cablevision chairman after the spin-off. Current chairman Charles Dolan will become chairman of Rainbow DBS.
Cablevision said in October it planned to cleave its operations in two. Cablevision Systems Corp. would include the New York metropolitan area cable systems, with 3 million subscribers; seven regional sports networks; music-video channel Fuse; New York-centric cable networks News 12 Networks, and MetroChannels and Rainbow Advertising Sales Corp.
Rainbow Media, in turn, would embrace Rainbow DBS (doing business as Voom) and three national cable networks: AMC, WE: Women's Entertainment and the Independent Film Channel.
Bickham is an 18-year veteran of Time Warner Cable, most recently serving as executive vice president of its 2.4 million-subscriber division covering North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas.
Bickham has had other roles in Time Warner. From 1995 to 1998 he operated Time Warner's Los Angeles cable system, and in 1988 he was a founding executive vice president of KBLCOM, an MSO with approximately 700,000 customers.
Rutledge has known Bickham for more than 10 years and recruited him.
"This is a great opportunity," Bickham said. "I've known Tom a long time. I know working for Tom is something that is going to work out well."
TIME WARNER MOVES
As a result of Bickham's departure, Time Warner Cable has made some changes to its operational management structure, appointing a new executive vice president, former Milwaukee division president Carol Hevey, who will oversee systems in Milwaukee and Ohio effective May 1. In August 2002, Time Warner Cable reduced its operations-management team from six members to five.
In addition to Hevey, the other executive VPs are William Goetz, Terry O'Connell, James Fellhauer and Barry Rosenblum.
Goetz is responsible for Austin, San Antonio, Waco and Houston, Texas, as well as other parts of Southern Texas; Los Angeles; and Memphis, Tenn.
O'Connell oversees Charlotte, Wilmington, Greensboro and Raleigh, N.C.; and Portland, Maine; and Fellhauer is in charge of Green Bay, Wisc.; Hawaii; Jackson, Miss., Monroe, La.; Kansas City; Minnesota; Nebraska; San Diego/Desert Cities, Calif.; and the National Division, which includes unclustered systems across the country. Rosenblum is responsible for New York City, Binghamton, Rochester and Syracuse, N.Y.
Hevey has been with Time Warner Cable for more than 22 years, most recently as division president at Time Warner's cable system in Milwaukee.
Previously she was president of the Portland, Maine, division and earlier president of the company's Boston division.
In Boston, Hevey oversaw one of the company's earliest urban broadband upgrades and helped double the number of customers in that division.
Hevey said in an interview last week that she'll focus on customer service and rolling out new products like HDTV and telephony.
She added that Time Warner Cable is planning a beta test of voice-over-Internet protocol service in Milwaukee, Cincinnati and Northeastern Ohio in May.
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