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Cable Operators

Rutledge: Cablevision Not Anti-Acquisition

3/30/2005 8:56 AM Eastern

New York -- Cablevision Systems Corp. president and chief operating Tom Rutledge ducked the question that was on everyone’s lips at the Banc of America Securities Media Telecommunications & Entertainment conference here Wednesday, but he said that the Bethpage, N.Y.-based MSO would grow through acquisition if it were presented with the right deal.

Rutledge declined to comment when asked about recent reports that Cablevision is considering teaming up with leveraged-buyout giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and private-equity firm Providence Equity Partners Inc. on their bid for Adelphia Communications Corp.

“We have said in the past that we think we’ve shown that we can take cable assets and be effective managers of them and generate rapid revenue and cash-flow growth,” Rutledge said. “If we found an opportunity to do that managerially and one that would make sense, we would pursue it. That’s a general statement.”

But when asked whether expanding the operator’s footprint outside of the New York metropolitan area would be counter to its New York-centric strategy of the past few years, Rutledge said that isn’t the case.

Cablevision once had systems in Cleveland, Boston and Kalamazoo, Mich., which the company sold in 2000 for about $3 billion. In the Boston deal, with AT&T Broadband, Cablevision also received about 125,000 customers in the New York metro area.

“If you think back to what we did with Cleveland and Boston, we really were trading and ended up with pretty much the same overall cable portfolio that we had before we moved the assets around,” Rutledge said.

“We thought there was and is an advantage in that, and we have been successful in that strategy at Cablevision,” he added. “And there is more in New York that we would like to have if we could have it. That all depends on the terms. I’m not commenting on deal possibilities.”

Later, Rutledge told reporters that no New York assets are being offered to Cablevision, and he wouldn’t speculate on which areas the MSO would desire.

September