Cable Getting a Bum Rap, Roberts Tells CTAM

Jul 26, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts argued Tuesday that the cable industry is getting a bum rap from some investors and analysts who are focusing only on the sector’s basic-cable subscribers.

Wall Street analysts and investors alike have collectively turned their backs on the cable sector amid stiffening competition from satellite operators and the expected emergence of a new competitor-the Regional Bell Operating Companies. The result has been depressed stock prices, fueled in part by the perception that the cable sector is suffering as a result of declines in basic cable subscribers.

“If you believe the stock analyst reports and the press, you’d think that cable’s future is in doubt,” Mr. Roberts said. “It may be an issue of perception versus reality. The whole cable industry is on an upswing.”

Indeed, Mr. Roberts pointed out that Comcast is expected to post revenue growth of up to 10 percent in 2005-far more than what the RBOCs are delivering.

He also pointed out that the company is “miles ahead” in the video business, is a leader in high-speed data and is “coming on strong in the telephone business.”

“Our industry is ready to reinvent television so that the consumer is fully in charge,” he said. “If we push ourselves and learn from other industries and nations, we can prove the naysayers wrong.”

However, Mr. Roberts did acknowledge that challenges lie ahead. Among them is customer service, which he described as the industry’s Achilles’ heel.

“We have been growing so fast that we never got [customer service] right,” he said, adding that the company now recognizes the importance of customer service. “We have made a huge priority of improving customer service,” Mr. Roberts said.