Charter’s Tom Rutledge didn’t make the point as forcefully as Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt did this morning. But asked whether he might follow his colleague who vowed to cut underperforming cable channels Rutledge told the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference that “we’re looking at similar kinds of savings.” The current system that requires viewers to pay for channels that they don’t watch “is perfection if you’re a content company.” Yet Rutledge says that Charter is “in the same position” as Time Warner Cable — and other pay TV providers — grappling with rising outlays for programming. It’s “a real issue” that “puts pressure on the business and pressure on more unique kinds of content,” Rutledge says. Beyond that, the Charter chief says he’s eager to bring digital efficiency to a company that’s been “abused” by financial problems. It briefly filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009. Speaking of the quality of his systems, Rutledge says that “in some places its Taj Mahal and in other places it’s not.” Satellite companies have more customers than Charter does in its territories. The CEO hopes to change that by going all digital, and storing program guide and other data in a server instead of set-top boxes. That would save money, and enable Charter to easily update information and software. “When you look at an iPad and watch television on it, it’s [in effect] a set top box and a TV.”
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