Charter loses a bundle

Red ink is $1.5 bil in Q4; advanced subs grow

Charter Communications, which is planning to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection by April 1, reported a wider fourth-quarter loss Monday driven by an impairment charge to write down the value of its cable franchises.

The cable operator, controlled by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, posted a loss of $1.5 billion, compared with red ink of $468 million in the year-ago period. The latest figure includes a $1.52 billion impairment charge.

In a bit of good news, quarterly revenue rose 6.6% to $1.66 billion as Charter signed up more advanced cable service users. The St. Louis-based firm lost 75,100 basic cable subscribers but added 22,300 digital video, 22,900 broadband and 75,200 telephony customers.

Charter president and CEO Neil Smit said he was "pleased with our operational results," highlighting the success of bundled services.

"Growing the bundle, even in a challenging economic environment, demonstrates our competitive position in this industry," Smit said in pledging to further boost penetration of bundled services. (partialdiff)