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Competition Drives Time Warner to Grow

June 18, 2008

Time Warner Cable is adding services and will expand its regional cable-news channel to Eastern North Carolina in August, part of a broader effort to woo customers amid increasing competition.

Currently, the company is introducing in this region a caller ID service that flashes a caller’s name and number on the TV screen. The company also is exploring wireless Internet service, Carol Hevey, Time Warner’s executive vice president for the Carolina region, said during a speech Tuesday morning in Raleigh.

Next year, the company plans to add two free services that allow customers to watch cable programs on demand instead of having to watch at the time they are scheduled to start, she said.

“There is a philosophy to be constantly developing products,” Hevey said. “As often as we can create them, we get them rolled out.”

The Triangle’s dominant cable provider is working to fend off satellite TV rivals as well as telecommunications giants, such as AT&T and Verizon, that are adding TV service. Also, municipalities such as Wilson are beginning to provide their own cable TV and high-speed Internet services.

The competition also is forcing Time Warner to review its prices. But Hevey stopped short of acknowledging that competition will result in cheaper rates.

“The cable TV companies are just getting slapped in the face with the reality that they have competition,” said communications analyst Jeff Kagan in Atlanta. “The good news is that customers are going to have a choice. Prices are going to be low, innovation is going to be higher.”

Time Warner expects to expand its News 14 channel this summer to its remaining 150,000 customers in Eastern North Carolina, and it will open a small bureau on the coast, Hevey said. About 1.5 million customers in the Carolinas already get News 14.

Also, Time Warner is working on a successor to its Pivot cell phone service, which quietly shut down in April, Hevey said.

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