Cable Operators

Rutledge Adds Longtime Lieutenant at Charter

5/07/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

Charter Communications CEO
Tom Rutledge continued to get the old band
back together last week, naming John Bickham,
his former second-in-command at Cablevision
Systems, as chief operating
officer at the St. Louisbased
MSO.

Bickham, a 26-year
able-industry veteran, is
the second former Cablevision
executive that
Rutledge has hired since
becoming Charter’s CEO
in December. In April,
former Cablevision executive
vice president of
marketing Jonathan Hargis
joined Charter as EVP
and chief marketing officer.

Bickham and Rutledge have a long history
together: Bickham served 18 years at Time
Warner Cable in various roles . He left in 2004
to join his old colleague at Cablevision .

OPERATIONAL HEAD

Bickham left Cablevision in November, after
eight years at the Bethpage, N.Y.-based MSO,
most recently as president of cable and communications.

At Charter, Bickham will manage all operations
across the MSO’s footprint, consisting of
about 4.8 million customer relationships.

“John knows this industry well, and appreciates
what it takes to run operations most effectively,”
Rutledge said in a statement. “We’ve
worked together for many years and I’m confident
in his ability to help this organization
achieve its full potential.”

Bickham will become Charter’s first COO
since Mike Lovett,
who left that position
to become CEO
in 2010. Lovett announced
his intention
to step down
last year.

And though Rutledge
is known as a
savvy operations executive
— he is credited
with much of
Cablevision’s industry
leading success
over the past several years — adding Bickham
could ease some of the day-to-day pressure on
the CEO.

“He [Bickham] is a high-quality executive.
Obviously, he and Rutledge work well together,”
ISI Group media analyst Judah Rifkin said,
adding that bringing on Bickham could free
Rutledge to focus more on broader issues.

$30M PAY PACKET

Bickham could rake in as much as $30 million
in total compensation over the next four years in
his new job, according to documents filed with
the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Bickham will receive a base salary of $1.375
million and will be eligible for an annual bonus
of as much as 135% of his base salary ($1.856 million)
if he reaches certain performance targets.

Bickham also will receive 210,000 shares of
Charter stock (based on Charter’s close of $60.47
per share on April 27, worth an estimated $12.7
million) that will vest over a four-year period.
He will also receive 232,000 shares of restricted
stock (worth an estimated $14.03 million) over
the same four-year vesting period.
Bickham’s departure from Cablevision in November
marked what would become a minor
exodus from the MSO. Last week, executive vice
president of advanced platform sales Barry Frey
was the latest high-ranking executive to leave.

Frey primarily was in charge of the Advanced
Platform Group in the cable operator’s ad sales
division, overseeing the development of interactive
TV, video-on-demand, online and linear
advertising capabilities.

A Cablevision spokesman confirmed that
Frey is no longer with the company and said he
left “recently.”

Frey’s departure follows the exit last month
of president and chief operating officer of media
sales David Kline. Kline was replaced by Greg
McCastle, previously senior vice president at
AT&T Services in charge of advertising.

Other executives that have departed in recent
months include John Trierweiler, EVP of product
management; EVP of corporate technology
and engineering Jim Blackley; and EVP of consumer
operations Kathleen “Kip” Mayo.


Todd Spangler contributed to this report.
September