National Show: Barry Rosenblum

Apr 4, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Barry Rosenblum, executive VP of Time Warner Cable, said things have changed dramatically since he first started working in the cable industry.

“It was very different,” he said. “Twenty-five years ago we were TV. You’d come into the area and provide TV [service] and customers could get more than the eight or nine channels they could get [over the air].”

Instead of merely providing 35 channels and HBO, Time Warner is one of many cable providers that now offer subscribers everything from voice service to two-way video service.

In his current position Mr. Rosenblum is responsible for his company’s cable operations in New York state, which include systems serving 2.3 million subscribers in Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Binghamton and New York and Portland, Maine. He also oversees Time Warner’s local cable news networks, including NY1 News. In his previous job as president of Time Warner Cable of New York and New Jersey, he oversaw a five-year $400 million fiber systems upgrade that allowed the company to offer ancillary services plus on-demand and digital television.

“Customers understand what they are doing,” Mr. Rosenblum said. “They are more demanding than they used to be, and deservedly so.”

Mr. Rosenblum, who started in cable as a sales manager in Jacksonville, Fla., said the industry is in a unique position when it comes to community involvement and public service.

“We’re probably the only major industry that is both national and local,” he said. “I don’t know that we’re held to a higher standard so much as we hold ourselves to a higher standard. Most cable operators do that. They are very involved in the community.”

In particular, he said, the New York-area cable systems were able to make a difference in the aftermath of Sept. 11. After the attacks NY1 ran an hourlong weekday program called “The Call-In Show,” which featured two on-air anchors and a mental health professional. The service went on for three months after the attacks.

“Customers could call in and discuss whatever issues there were after the other channels had moved on to other things,” he said.

Mr. Rosenblum serves as the vice chairman of the Cable Television and Communications Association of New York and in 2004 was appointed honorary chairman of the New York chapter of Cable Positive, the nonprofit organization founded by the industry to fight HIV/AIDS.

He points to Cable Positive as a good example of industry involvement in public service because it is “cable centric.”

“It’s a great cause,” he said, “and in part when you live in New York City, where HIV is a real issue, you can do things that make a real difference.”

Mr. Rosenblum is also a longtime advocate of the Child Abuse Prevention Program, or CAPP, an organization that helps fight child abuse through New York public schools.

When Time Warner first learned about CAPP it was a small program that put on puppet shows to teach children about abuse. The program also provided a safe way for children to let someone know if they were being abused. Mr. Rosenblum said CAPP was “operating on a shoestring” before Time Warner got involved. As part of its outreach program, Time Warner chose a number of charities and gave customers the option of donating their installation fees to specific organizations.

Fifty percent of the customers chose to donate to CAPP, he said.

The support from Time Warner, which was in turn driven by clear customer support for the program, allowed CAPP to grow.

“We were able to give them a lot of positive publicity as well as contributions,” he said. “Today, while we’re still an important contributor, they have been able to branch out and they are much more active in the schools than 15 years ago.”

Howard Szarfarc, the division president for Time Warner Cable’s New York systems, has worked with Mr. Rosenblum for 20 years. Mr. Szarfarc said Mr. Rosenblum’s “low-key style” is why so many people have stayed with him so long.

Mr. Rosenblum said he takes a practical approach to managing his staff.

“To me a lot of it is management by walking around, knowing people, have them know you, try to understand what they think should be done and guide them toward that,” he said. “This is the kind of business where every department has to interact with one another to really work.”

Just the Facts

Title: Executive VP,

Time Warner Cable

Place of birth: Flushing, N.Y.

Date of birth: Dec. 22, 1952

Who knew? Just out of

college Mr. Rosenblum sold ties and belts, the most expensive costing $3.99.