Optimum West sold to larger outfit

It’s too early to know if changes are planned for S.W. Colorado

First, it was Bresnan, then, it was Optimum and now, it’s Charter. Southwest Colorado is getting a new cable provider for the second time in two years.

Charter Communications Inc., the fourth-largest cable operator in the United States, is buying Optimum West from Cablevision Systems Corp. for $1.625 billion.

While Cablevision is based in New York, it manages cable operating systems in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and Utah. The company bought Bresnan Broadband Holdings in 2010 for $1.37 billion.

“With this transaction, Charter will acquire some of the fastest-growing cable assets in the United States,” said Charter CEO Tom Rutledge in a news release. “Optimum West is an ideal fit for Charter, and we anticipate an efficient integration process.”

Rutledge was the chief operating officer of Cablevision when it purchased Bresnan.

The sale won’t close until this spring.

How the acquisition will affect customers in the Four Corners remains to be seen.

“It is too early in the process to identify any specific changes in service for Optimum West customers,” said John Miller, spokesman for Charter, in an email to The Durango Herald.

Miller would not comment on what prompted negotiations between Charter, and Cablevision. Cablevision could not be reached for comment.

Cablevision sold the cable system to focus on the New York area where the majority of its customers are, according to Bloomberg News.

Time Warner Cable Inc. and Suddenlink Communications also put in bids for the company.

Charter might also be the company to bring Denver television to the area if Rep. Scott Tipton’s House bill is passed.

The Four Corners Television Access Act of 2012 was introduced in April of last year, but it never passed.

Tipton plans to reintroduce his bill this year, said spokesman Josh Green.

The bill had bipartisan support from Colorado members, Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat, and Mike Coffman, a Republican. The bill would allow Southwest Colorado residents to keep television in their current designated market area, while also getting Colorado-based television and news.

jdahl@durangoherald.com