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Cable Technology Feature Article

June 11, 2014

Glenn Britt, Former Time Warner Cable CEO, Dies at 65

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

Former Time Warner (News - Alert) Cable Chairman and CEO Glenn Britt, a 40-plus year veteran of the cable industry, has succumbed to his long-running battle with melanoma. He was 65.

Britt served as TWC's CEO from 2001 to 2013, overseeing the cable company’s transition from a regional television provider to a triple-play operator that stands as the No. 2 MSO in the United States after its 2009 spinoff from Time Warner.

He was the champion behind the company’s rollout of video on demand (VOD), HD TV and digital video recorders; along with its foray into digital distribution and TV Everywhere, and its rollout of DOCSIS 3.0 for high-speed, multimedia-friendly broadband.

Britt also spearheaded the strategic direction to continue to move the company to all-IP infrastructure—with plans to launch a 300mbps broadband tier later this year to achieve parity with archrival Verizon (News - Alert) Communications.

Britt was also known as a strong industry advocate for the revamping of programming and carriage arrangements, arguing that the rising cost of programming has spiraled out of control.

Current CEO Rob Marcus issued a statement hailing Britt as a pioneer for his commitment to innovation, diversity and inclusion.

"We were guided for many years by his strong belief that a company must be willing to reinvent itself to be successful; his commitment to saying what you mean and doing what you say; and his conviction that a richly diverse workforce - diverse in ethnicity, culture, beliefs, perspectives, experiences and lifestyles - is necessary to best serve our diverse customers and communities," he said. "He will long be remembered for his thoughtful and steady leadership through rapidly changing times in the communications field."

Britt joined Time Inc. (News - Alert) in 1972 in the controller's department, becoming vice president and treasurer of fledgling Manhattan Cable Television Inc. in 1974. After stints at HBO and elsewhere in the Time Warner portfolio, he became CFO of Time Inc. and executive vice president at Time Warner Cable. As president and CEO of Time Warner Cable Ventures, he oversaw the launch of Road Runner, the country's first high-speed Internet service. He was also at the helm when Time Warner spun off TWC as its own entity, which now has $21 billion in revenue and a $40 billion market cap.

At the same time, in recent quarter, he also oversaw an era of uncertainty for the now-standalone MSO, which was embroiled in a costly programing blackout of CBS and Showtime for a month in the late summer last year that resulted in significant churn and dissatisfaction among subscribers. For the full year 2013, TWC shed 833,000 video customers, compared to a loss of 532,000 in 2012. Broadband customer additions slowed to 154,000 from 433,000 in 2012. And, the company lost 218,000 home phone customers last year, while it added 191,000 the prior year.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, in February, TWC and Comcast (News - Alert) announced its $45 billion mega-merger, which is under regulatory review.

Britt announced his plan to retire last summer, Rob Marcus as the company’s next CEO, before stepping down in January. Last October, he revealed that he had been diagnosed with cancer in 2008, and that it had returned.

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