Interview Date: Friday April 05, 2002
Interview Location: Denver, CO USA
Interviewer: Gerry Yutkin
Program: Hauser Project
YUTKIN: This recording is being funded by the Hauser Oral and Video History Project of The Cable Center’s Oral and Video History Program. I am Gerry YUTKIN, and we are sitting here in The Cable Center in Denver, Colorado talking with Carl VOGEL. Carl VOGEL is probably one of the youngest interviewees, I think, that we’ve ever done in this series, and there are several other interviews – maybe not the youngest, but one of. Tell us what you’re doing now, and actually before that let’s say that this is being recorded in April of 2002. So, if we get into maybe some of your background, going back to Arthur Andersen, many, many, many, many years ago, the people will know the context in which we’re speaking. So you’re now chairman and CEO, a pretty young CEO, of Charter Communications.
VOGEL: I am. Since October of 2001, I’ve had the chance to be president and CEO of Charter Communications, seven million customers, 40 states, a great opportunity, great company, and exciting time.
YUTKIN: Ten years ago was there a Charter?
VOGEL: Ten years ago the systems, a good number of the systems, in Charter were actually owned by our former company, Jones Intercable. So, no, ten years ago there wasn’t a Charter, certainly in its present constitution.
YUTKIN: And the chairman is?
VOGEL: The chairman is Paul Allen.
YUTKIN: Who is relatively new to this aspect of telecommunications?
VOGEL: Certainly relatively new to the ownership side of the business. I actually met Paul and his people in the late ’80s, early ’90s when they were looking at a pay-per-view product called Sky Pics, and it was presented at a Jones’ managers meeting years and years ago, and I met Bill Savoy at that time, and have kept in touch with those guys over the years and had an occasion to talk to them when I was in the DBS business, had an occasion to talk to them when I was with Liberty, and when this opportunity presented itself, I took it.
YUTKIN: The industry’s been in a state of flux for probably the last seven or eight, nine years. It’s not what it used to be like. Charter has gotten in the business relatively recently. What are you working on right now? What’s been going on in the last six months, and where do you see the company, Charter, and the industry going in the coming years?
VOGEL: Sure. As you know, I was in the business, then out of the business, and now I’m back into the business, and it’s a completely different opportunity, a completely different set of challenges than it was when I left in ’94 and came back in 2001. I think we are truly now a consumer products company. We sell multiple products. We sell analog television, we sell digital television, we sell cable modem services, we sell interactivity, we sell telephony services in some cases, and I think what’s happened is in that seven years timeframe the industry has rebuilt its plant, introduced advanced services, and kind of paid off on the promise that we’ve all talked about for the past 20 years. So I think the industry is clearly more dynamic, it’s much more complicated. I think what we are trying to do at Charter is what the rest of our peer group is trying to do. We’ve rapidly rebuilt our plant, we’ve got a significant amount of money invested in the industry – I’ve heard somewhere along the lines of 55 billion dollars to rebuild the industry – and now it’s time to pay off on the promise.
YUTKIN: That has been spent already?
VOGEL: That has been spent in the context of the rebuilds and the upgrades, and now we have to move from a purveyor of just television services to a purveyor of multiple products, and it has obviously created stress in our management ranks, it creates stress to our CSRs, but I think at the end of the day it’s a great opportunity, and at least the people at Charter are certainly stepping up to the challenge.
YUTKIN: As long as I’ve known you, you’ve been able to tolerate stress pretty well. Is that attributable to genetics or sense of humor or what? Because you’ve held a lot of different responsibilities over the years.
VOGEL: I have.
YUTKIN: You look pretty good – I know you’ve got an awful lot on your mind.
VOGEL: Well, I think it’s both my personal life and my professional life. I have the great blessing to be married to one of the best people in the world, who you know, my wife Carol.
YUTKIN: I know. I’ve known her for a long time.
VOGEL: Who I think just helps me keep life in perspective, and is the kind of person who helps me do what I want to do. We have five kids; she would suggest we have six, and I’d be the sixth. I think my family life helps me keep perspective on who we are and why we’re on this earth, and what can we do. I stress out just like everybody else. I think what my family would tell you is I stress out about the little things, but I don’t stress out about the big things, and I think most of the things I deal with in business are the big things, but if the beds aren’t made and the rooms aren’t clean, I’m a little harder to deal with than if I’m trying to get a big deal done or trying to change the complexion of a company. I think it’s just perspective.
YUTKIN: Does that go back to the fact that you were originally an accountant?
VOGEL: I don’t think so. It probably goes back to the fact that my dad was somewhat of an entrepreneurial guy. My family got me involved in our family business when I was probably ten or eleven years old. My dad was a painting and decorating guy at first, which is a fancy name for a house painter, but I had to sand floors and paint walls and mix paint. I was expected to be involved in business early, so I saw a lot of things early, and I think that gave me a good perspective as I got older.
VOGEL: One brother, older.
YUTKIN: Was he the leader or were you the little kid who was competing with him and had to succeed?
VOGEL: I was probably the little kid who was competing with him who had to succeed. We were a relatively small family, growing up in suburban Chicago, moved to northern Wisconsin when I was in high school, had some success athletically, which I think helps, and I’ve just, I think, from a stress perspective I’ve been around good people, learned a lot of lessons from good people, have tried to keep all of this in perspective. You know, it’s a great industry, but we’re selling TV; we’re not curing cancer here. So it’s a perspective thing, I think.
YUTKIN: You went to St. Norbert’s?
VOGEL: I did.
YUTKIN: In Green Bay, Wisconsin.
VOGEL: De Pere, Wisconsin.
YUTKIN: Oh, that’s right. Right outside.
VOGEL: Paper mills and colleges and bars, basically, is what was in De Pere, Wisconsin.
YUTKIN: And the Packers.
VOGEL: And the Packers, training camp for the Packers.
YUTKIN: And what about the athletic experience?
VOGEL: I went to college to play baseball, so that tells you how good a baseball player I was. I went to a Division Two school in northern Wisconsin, so I couldn’t have been that good, but that was important at the time. It helped me get an education. I had the opportunity to compete, which I thought was fun. I think college athletics, even at the Division Two and Three level, were a great experience for me, and I enjoyed my days at St. Norbert very much.
YUTKIN: You were there for all four years?
VOGEL: I was there for all four years.
YUTKIN: And you graduated, and then what did you do?
VOGEL: I went to the big city. I went back to Chicago and went to work for Arthur Andersen and Company, again, a great experience. Since it is April 2002, I think it’s a shame that we’re seeing what’s happened to what I consider a fabulous firm with great individuals, who are well-intentioned…
YUTKIN: Enron was one of the largest oil and…
VOGEL: Gas trading commodities, whatever you want to call them – broadband trading. I think Enron, in my humble opinion, was pushing the envelope. Andersen was trying to provide client service. Aggressive accounting positions have been taken for a long time in a lot of industries, and I think it just got caught up with everybody and I think the Enron folks have been less than honest and the Arthur Andersen guys have been painted as a scapegoat because the government needs to point at somebody because people lost a lot of money. But that’s why they call it equity. Those 401K funds could have been as easily invested in T Bills and fixed income securities and everything else, and as with anything else fear and greed drive the markets. I think greed got a little bit ahead of it, and now somebody’s looking for a scapegoat and it’s unfortunate.
YUTKIN: And just one more comment – with the exception of supposedly shredding documents, at least at this point it appears that everything that was done was done legally in terms of some of the accounting practices, some of the buying and selling, and so on and so forth.
VOGEL: Sure. It’s not about Andersen, but I think it points up to a change in the place and time, I think, we find ourselves. As the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, which Charter is, we’re held to a different standard and I think the class envy that’s been put in front of the press, that all CEOs are evil, is unfortunate, but I think that’s what’s out there today. I can tell you, when I get up in the morning and I go to work, I try to do what I think is right for my company, for my family, for my shareholders, for my employees, and I think 100% of the CEOs of America do exactly the same thing, but it’s an energized time, money’s involved, and a lot of it’s politics.
YUTKIN: And a lot of it has to do with pressure to show short-term profits.
VOGEL: Yeah, I think there’s a fair amount of pressure on Wall Street. I think the late ’90s created this momentum investment culture where you were often evaluated on press releases and growth at any cost, and the cable business and Charter’s business is a business that we don’t manage on a month to month or quarter to quarter basis. We manage for the longer run, and at this point in time, in April 2002, the cable stocks are down but I think a lot of people want to get back in the business, I think the prospects for the business are outstanding, I think the multiple products we have are great, and I think this too shall pass, and hopefully when somebody’s looking at this 50 years from now, it will have in fact passed.
YUTKIN: I would tend to agree with you. I mean I’m certainly not looking at it from a CEO position, and that’s part of your job is to find the good and to look for it. Otherwise why would you be in the position that you’re in? I know you’re not that kind of a guy – you wouldn’t do something that you don’t believe in. I’ve known you long enough for that.
VOGEL: That’s true.
YUTKIN: You’re not totally altruistic.
VOGEL: No, I wouldn’t say I’m that altruistic. I think as we look at what we do with our company, I think we’ve got today a great product in cable modem services. I don’t know what the product of tomorrow’s going to be, but I can tell you, it’s not going to be here tomorrow. It’s going to be here 18 to 24 to 36 months, just like when you and I first met each other we were a 35-channel cable plant and launching things like MTV and ESPN, and then we had additional pay services and more and more basic services, and we thought 54 channels was “God, what are we going to with 54 channels?”
YUTKIN: And then 128.
VOGEL: And then 128, and then telephony tests on some of the properties you ran in the Maryland area, and that’s 15 years ago. Today those products are now really coming to market in a scalable fashion that has an impact. So none of this stuff happens overnight. The same can be said for digital television, certainly the same can be said for cable modem services. We’ve all talked about the promise of interactivity; I’m not so sure we even know what that is today, yet at some level the street expects various revenue streams (snaps) like that, and that’s just not the way things work in our business.
YUTKIN: It’s the long-term investment, but it’s much more competitive now than it was when we – and by the way, it’s almost 20 years since we met, since we started working together, next year it’ll be 20 years – but it’s much more competitive in a different way. We’ve seen certainly, I guess, the breakup of AT&T has…
YUTKIN: Twice, that’s right. I mean the first one, and now it seems like everybody’s in the business and sometimes it looks like it’s pretty chaotic out there, that people have been paying too much for operations. You mentioned the Maryland system, I remember that that was one of the first that Jones bought when we first started working together, and I think they were concentrating on more on a cost per subscriber even than future revenues or future cash flow.
VOGEL: No question.
YUTKIN: I think we were paying 1,600, 1,700 dollars a subscriber for that particular system.
YUTKIN: And they were going for what – a thousand dollars, twelve hundred dollars a system. That was taking a chance in those days.
YUTKIN: Are the chances that we’re taking now much different, certainly in terms of the competitors out there?
VOGEL: Well, I think the chances are the same, the circumstances are different.
YUTKIN: What do you mean?
VOGEL: I think that we paid – using Anne Arundle County, Maryland as an example – we paid 1,600 – 1,700 a sub, and we paid that price because we saw growth, and that growth at that point was essentially new home growth and the ability to build out to those new homes.
YUTKIN: Relatively easy.
VOGEL: And now the kind of growth that we’re seeing is growth and introducing new products over the advanced platform that we built. Different circumstances, same general situation, so I think people – when you look at the opportunity to buy assets, I think you have to look at the opportunity today on the same basis we looked at things before. Can you consolidate them and run them better? Can you get economies in scale in your operating costs? Can you create scale economies to deliver new revenue opportunities? And those new revenue opportunities are different today than they were 20 years ago. They’ll be different 20 years from now than they are today?
YUTKIN: How so? Any idea?
VOGEL: I think subscription video on demand, video on demand, broadband media centers, personal video recorders, pvr technology, all of those things are going to come together and change the way people use and view television – integration with the Internet, moving files and content amongst various devices you may have in your home or your business or your school. So I think there’s lots of other applications that are coming.
YUTKIN: And is Charter going to be a survivor?
VOGEL: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, I hope so. When I got and look at Charter as a company, we have critical mass in 7 million customers. We may have the opportunity to grow. I’ve got a shareholder, my controlling shareholder in Paul Allen has a bigger vision, and frankly a healthy vision for our industry that’s different from the status quo of the past. I think Charter will survive to the extent that we’re successful in adding additional products, generating additional revenues, and participating in the growth of the industry. If we don’t, Charter won’t survive, but I think we’ve got the right elements. We’ve got a strong management team, we’ve got a meaningful footprint, we’ve got a strong sponsoring shareholder with vision – and vision is sometimes overrated. I would rather have modest vision and great execution than great vision and modest execution, but you combine the vision of somebody like a Paul Allen, who has clearly been on the cutting edge of computer technology, has great background from his days at Microsoft, has, I think, a great idea of what this platform can really be. I think when you add all that up, if we execute we’ll survive, and if we don’t, we’ll be gone.
YUTKIN: You’ve been in the business for almost 20 years, ’83.
VOGEL: Actually, ’81 is when I first got involved in the business.
YUTKIN: From Andersen?
VOGEL: When I was at Andersen – Jones Intercable was my client.
YUTKIN: First client – first cable client?
VOGEL: My first true cable client. Prior to that, when I was in Chicago I did some studies for a couple of telephone companies that were either in the business or thinking about franchising the business.
YUTKIN: Can you name them?
VOGEL: Yeah, Telephone and Data Systems in Madison, Wisconsin, and the old Centel Group in Chicago.
YUTKIN: And Centel did go into it.
VOGEL: Centel was… we bought their assets in Chicago, and TDS went into it as well, and that was my first exposure to the industry as kind of a wet behind the ears Arthur Andersen accountant.
YUTKIN: In those days, in the early ’80s, it was just five or six years after the satellite went up. There were plenty of people, or some people, who were afraid of the cable business, and certainly in the big cities. Did you see anything at that time, in the early ’80s? Well, you must have because you took the opportunity to go to Jones two years later. You got out of the Arthur Andersen business and into the…
VOGEL: Yeah, I remember when I told my dad that I was going to leave the fine profession of public accounting that he had helped invest in to get me through college, and the CPA exam and all that attendant pain, and I was going to work for a company that sold TV services to people. He thought I was completely out of my mind.
YUTKIN: In small towns!
VOGEL: And my wife was pregnant with our first daughter at the time. Of course, I didn’t know it when I took the job, but I knew it nine months later.
YUTKIN: Or maybe before then.
VOGEL: Yeah, certainly before that. But I think what I saw… I just thought it was cool. I liked sports; I thought the whole concept of ESPN was pretty cool.
YUTKIN: It was brand new then.
VOGEL: I liked movies. I mean, how many people signed up for cable and when they told us they wanted cable they said, “I want HBO.” We’ve had a history of that in our industry of great brands associated with great television pulling along our business. We’ve all tried to enhance our own company’s brands later, but certainly… I just thought it was kind of cool, and at the time, in Denver, there were really three industries you could be in: the oil and gas business…
YUTKIN: Which was…?
VOGEL: Which was on its way down. The recreation business, which wasn’t exactly lighting it up. Or this cable thing, which seemed to be pretty cool. I knew I wasn’t set out for a long-term career in public accounting, because I found that essentially what we were asked to do was to opine on something that had already happened. I found out pretty early on I wanted to be part of making it happen, rather than talking about what happened and how to account for it. So I wasn’t the best public accountant in the world, but it did give me a great exposure to great industries and interesting people.
YUTKIN: When you say you weren’t the best public accountant, you mean in terms of your long-term future commitment to a permanent position in that industry?
VOGEL: Yeah, I just couldn’t see myself evaluating and coming up with accounting principles so you could report them in an SEC document.
YUTKIN: Okay. So you got into cable in Denver?
YUTKIN: You moved from Chicago to Denver.
VOGEL: I was transferred from Chicago to Denver, right.
YUTKIN: Did you request that or did it come up and you accepted it?
VOGEL: My parents had moved to northern Colorado when I was in college, and at Arthur Andersen they had this thing called the “dream sheet” and it had every office of Arthur Andersen worldwide and they sent it out every year and you checked the boxes that you would accept a transfer to.
VOGEL: Yeah. Most of us checked every box other than maybe, with all due respect, Omaha or Boise or things like that.
YUTKIN: Oh, come on. I lived in Omaha, some of the nicest people I’ve ever met live in Omaha, including one of the bigger investors in the world.
VOGEL: And I don’t doubt that, but that wasn’t the place you really… when you’re 22 years old you want to go to… everybody checks Paris, France, although probably there’s nothing to do in Paris, France from an accounting perspective…
YUTKIN: Oh, they need accountants everywhere, I thought.
VOGEL: But everybody checked that box, but I checked Denver and I told my wife, who was then my girlfriend, I told my girlfriend that I was probably not going to move, but I’m going to check this box. Three months later I got a call, I was in Denver.
YUTKIN: Were you a number cruncher?
VOGEL: Oh, yeah. I went out and did audits. I did cash counts and payroll tests and walked by buildings to make sure they were still there – I was pretty good at that. I had clients that ranged from – you’ll get a kick out of this – the Chicago Board of Education to Kansas-Nebraska Natural Gas to Wild Cat Oil Drillers in Wyoming to Vail Associates to Jones Intercable. It was a pretty wide, diverse group, and a lot of the leadership of our cable industry, frankly, came out of this Denver office of Arthur Andersen, guys like Bill Elsner, and Gary Howard, Ted Henderson, myself, Al Angelic, a lot of people you know.
YUTKIN: I know. Let me get back…
VOGEL: Bernie Dvorak, I’m leaving a lot of guys out, but a lot of men and women that worked at Arthur Andersen went into the cable industry – Valerie Sell – and had an impact.
YUTKIN: You mentioned Al Angelic, and you mentioned Jones Intercable, Glenn Jones. How did that evolve?
VOGEL: Jones was my client and Al Angelic was a partner at Arthur Andersen and was brought in to Jones by Glenn as the CFO and Al was really a banking partner and hadn’t had a lot of exposure to the cable industry, and I think after about three months decided he needed somebody that had exposure to the cable industry. I happened to be sitting down the hall doing the audit, I had happened to work for Al on a number of banking clients, and by the grace of God he hired me. The best move of my life. Al was a professional.
YUTKIN: Some would say that it was the best move of Al’s life, too – one of, anyway.
VOGEL: Oh, I would agree with that, and I don’t think Al would argue with that. You know, Al goes by Allen now, but I still call him Al so he’ll always be Al for me. Al did it the right way.
YUTKIN: That was only about six months after he came…?
VOGEL: It was about three or four months because you and I and Al were all lined up in the same hallway.
YUTKIN: That’s right. We all came at the same time.
VOGEL: Al picked it. I was in Phillipsburg, Kansa in February in the middle of winter wrapping up an audit.
YUTKIN: Of ’83?
VOGEL: ’82, or excuse me, ’83. It all kind of blurs together after awhile. And he called me and he said, “Would you ever consider leaving public accounting?” I’m like, oh, man, I’m glad this call finally came, “Yeah, I would.” “How about coming to join me at Jones?” And I said, “Sure.” And he said, “Why don’t you and your wife meet me at the Denver Athletic Club.” Carol and I went to the Denver Athletic Club. He did it the right way, he presented it as kind of a joint thing and it really came to that. Then I met Glenn. I will never forget this as long as I live, Glenn looked me right in the eye and he said, “I don’t care how old you are, I don’t care what color you are, I don’t care what sex you are, if you perform you’re going to do well at Jones.” And true to his word, I worked hard, I had some good years and some not so good years, but most of my experience and opportunity really came as a result of Al Angelic and Glenn Jones.
YUTKIN: And one of the things that Glenn also used to say to everyone afterwards was, “You’re probably not going to get fired if you make mistakes, but you’ll damn well get fired if you don’t do anything.”
VOGEL: Well, Gerry, you know, “Attack, attack, always attack.”
YUTKIN: Well, this was even before his phrase that way, but he said that and you were always one of the doers. So you joined in ’83, just about the time that the limited partnerships were becoming very important. Jones Intercable was the first cable company to attack the market through publicly registered limited partnerships, am I correct?
VOGEL: I think so. I know others were doing limited partnerships, and there’s some debate, but we were certainly – I think Daniels was doing some things and others – but we were certainly committed to the public side of that business, and I had had some experience in that from my days at Arthur Andersen with the oil and gas limited partnerships. I got involved in that right away at Jones, as you know.
YUTKIN: And that was right at the beginning, in ’83, ’84, they used to bring in the brokers.
VOGEL: Yeah, I remember, I think a big fund back then was 7,8,10,12 million dollars and guys like Dick Swanson and David Zonker, I mean we went from doing that a year to doing that a week, and raised some big money, great days, a great bunch of folks to hang out with. We raised a lot of money, bought a lot of assets, had a lot of fun.
YUTKIN: In a very, fairly, short period of time.
VOGEL: I’d say our big years were probably ’84 to certainly ’89-’90. The tax act came to change the business a bit, but I think that fundraising business under David Zonker’s leadership, as well as Dick Swanson, was a key asset for Jones and helped us grow our company significantly.
YUTKIN: The market moved very fast from ’83 to ’89.
VOGEL: Yes, it did.
YUTKIN: Glenn Jones was kind of a larger than life character, person, individual, at that time, still is.
VOGEL: Still is, no question.
YUTKIN: Great idealism. You mentioned before that you have, with Paul Allen who is a major shareholder… it appears on your resume that you’ve had a lot of jobs in the last seven years since you left Jones, but in fact you’ve had a lot of positions but it’s not really that you’ve been job hunting. You’ve been working for not too many people, strong people.
VOGEL: I don’t think I’ve ever put together a resume.
YUTKIN: Glenn Jones was probably the first of the strong people that you’ve worked with.
VOGEL: I’d say Al Angelic was the first of the strong people. A little less of a character, but certainly a guy who in his own quiet way showed what leadership was about and kind of gave you enough rope to hang yourself, and I’ve always done well with those kinds of guys.
YUTKIN: But he was also very supportive.
VOGEL: Hugely supportive.
YUTKIN: Enormously supportive. I could see that as he was CFO at Jones.
YUTKIN: But let’s go on. You were with Jones for about 10 years.
VOGEL: Yeah, about 11 years.
YUTKIN: 11 years, and you went from public accounting to be the controller, the number two financial position, you were able to bring in, and actually the accounting department was expanding, you brought in your people…
VOGEL: I brought in a lot of my people.
YUTKIN: But it was still Jones Intercable.
YUTKIN: You got into all kinds of things in the process of being with Jones. I don’t know how many jobs within the Jones organization that you had.
VOGEL: Well, you mentioned that I’ve done a lot of things. I have a Cable World reprint on my wall at home and the title was “Jones Jack of All Trades”. I think the jack of all trades things still applies. I’ve changed from Jones to Ergen to Malone and Hindery to now Paul Allen.
YUTKIN: So you’ve really only had, with Al in there, it’s really kind of four experiences. Jones and Angelic…
VOGEL: Jones and Angelic, Charlie Ergen, John Malone and Leo Hindery, and now Paul Allen.
YUTKIN: Okay. Widest range, it seems to me, at Jones, that you did so much that was so far afield.
VOGEL: Yeah, it set me up certainly for what I went to next at EchoStar, that’s for sure.
YUTKIN: Yeah, Charlie Ergen, EchoStar, but I want to get back to the movies.
VOGEL: Okay, you didn’t bring up the movies, but yeah, I went from the controller to doing programming contracts to producing movies…
YUTKIN: When you say programming contracts, with program suppliers to the industry?
VOGEL: Right, I was the primary negotiator, as you know, on behalf of Jones with the likes of MTV and ESPN. You know, the scary thing is all the people I negotiated with then are in responsible positions somewhat like myself.
YUTKIN: Tell us about the USA contract and what was going on there, unless you…
VOGEL: Well, you know, it was a contract dispute that clearly wasn’t getting anywhere.
YUTKIN: Set it up, set it up. A lot of people don’t know about it, and actually this is really very interesting.
VOGEL: Some of it pre-dates me.
YUTKIN: USA is a program supplier, which is currently operating one of the biggest programmers in the business, the most popular.
VOGEL: And was then.
YUTKIN: And was then one of the most popular channels.
VOGEL: This was like 1988, and we had…
YUTKIN: And Jones was carrying it.
VOGEL: We had a contractual dispute and we took it all off across the country.
YUTKIN: You took it all off?
VOGEL: Took USA Network off of every Jones cable systems across the country, which spurred some litigation and that’s…
YUTKIN: Can you talk about the dispute? I know there was a lot of publicity.
VOGEL: It kind of pre-dates… I wasn’t involved then. My recollection – I sound like I’m being deposed, which I’ve been deposed a lot – but my recollection is that we didn’t like the rate, we didn’t like the terms, I don’t remember exactly what the…
YUTKIN: Wasn’t there something about the fact that Glenn was taking a moral stance, also?
VOGEL: Glenn, I think, didn’t like some of the violent programming that in his judgment was there. I think he took the stance that there was some commercial terms he didn’t like, but the long and the short of it is he dropped the service. Unfortunately, in 2002 I think we’re going to see more of that going forward. I think we were just ahead of our time back in 1988.
YUTKIN: As an operations individual in a cable operation then, I thought that we were potentially between a rock and a hard place because you supply all this programming, you sell the programming, people get used to the programming, and then the programmer can come in and you’re at the mercy. Now the programmer is probably going to sit here and say, “Well, that’s not quite it,” but from our standpoint at that point, that was true, and this was probably one of the first times that a cable company had taken off a major programming source.
VOGEL: Certainly in the scale and the scope that we did it.
YUTKIN: Do you think that we’ve changed? Are we less vulnerable? Are the programmers under more pressure to control that?
VOGEL: No, I think frankly that the balance of power has swung to the programmers. I think with the evolution of direct to home competitors, both EchoStar and Direct TV, the programmers have a way to get their programming into the market and we’re seeing it with sports rights today, we’re seeing it with general entertainment networks, we’re seeing it across the board, and there’s a fair amount of debate as we sit here today about Yankees in New York with Cable Vision. From where I sit, there’s a lot of noise about sports programming, but the bottom line is sports programming delivers. I think as an operator I am more prone to pay more for sports than I am for re-purposed general entertainment content, and I think that’s where the problem is going to be, especially when you introduce video on demand services, multiplex premium services, just more control to the consumer over how they watch television. I think the value of syndicated content on a general entertainment network loses value over time, but I think what we saw with Jones at that time was a situation where we felt that the price was too high, the content was in question, in our judgment we didn’t like some of the content, and you’re going to see those kinds of spats as we move forward irrespective of consolidation or otherwise. So not a lot has changed, in many ways it’s stayed the same.
YUTKIN: 20 years ago the broadcasters were predicting that free TV’s going to go away, and in the instance of sports, all sports is going to be on a pay-per-view basis. Certainly a lot more has moved into if not the pay-per-view basis in terms of cost, ESPN has got a lot of sports programming, people have to pay for that. How do you see that in 20 years from now?
VOGEL: I think sports has got to be tiered at some level because notwithstanding the strength of the sports product, it’s just getting to the point where we can’t as an industry, and I don’t care if you’re a cable operator or a satellite provider, we’re taking the low end economic out and the reason is our basic rates, for the most part, whether you’re a satellite guy or a cable operator, and it’s the full expanded level of service. You’re in the $39 to $45 range. The reason you’re in that range is the rising costs of programming and the costs that are seemingly going to rise the most look like they’re in the sports category, we’ve got to come up with a solution, but we’ve come up with solutions in the past, I’m sure we’ll come up with solutions in the future. I think the reason that a lot of sports product has migrated to cable is because the cable programmers have a dual revenue stream. They have advertising and they have subscription fees, and therefore they can pay more than someone that has a single revenue stream, but I think as we look at and we go forward I think we’ll see probably sports tiers, we’ll probably see more pay-per-view capability. I think we’ll continue to see, and I hope we’ll continue to see, the big events like the Final Four and the World Series and the Super Bowl, I’ll say the NHL, the Stanley Cup, because I’m a hockey guy, but the NBA finals, those kinds of things I hope would stay on broadcast television, but you know, it’s all about economics and we live in a society and in a world, and thank God, in a country that supply and demand means something and I think it’ll get worked out over time.
YUTKIN: Okay, we got off a little bit from the track we were talking about…
VOGEL: You want to talk about the movie business.
YUTKIN: I want to talk about how Carl VOGEL is a producer of movies.
VOGEL: Well, you’ll never find my name as a credit in any movie, but…
YUTKIN: You did have credits, though, didn’t you, in terms of…
VOGEL: I never took a credit.
YUTKIN: You never took a credit?
VOGEL: No, Glenn took a credit but I never did. I got in the movie business at Jones in 1989 and I think Glenn was right, as you know, back at that point in time everybody was trying to create original content for cable. We were in the business because we could raise capital. We raised capital to fund productions.
YUTKIN: On what basis? How could that happen? There was a history of raising capital to invest in cable operations, but did you just wake up one day and convince somebody that…?
VOGEL: No, there were public limited partnerships to finance studio movies back then. I don’t remember the names of them, but there was some precedent in the public markets for film financing, and so we took that and kind of twisted it our way and went to various cable programmers and said, “We’d like to create content for you.” I think, in retrospect, we probably should have bought a network or built a network where we had our own output because as we sit here today, now some 14 years later, we were essentially competing with our customer – the TNTs, the Showtimes, and the HBOS – the people we produced for. They could it with more scale, they had the outlet, as the grew their business they didn’t need the off balance sheet financing that we provided, and as I said to Glenn, it’s a great life and a great hobby, but it’s never going to be a big business for us unless we got a network. So I was kind of involved in creating the financing documents at the time. I was doing programming contracts at Jones, and I vividly remember Glenn coming to me and saying, “I want you to run the entertainment company.” I said, “I don’t know anything about the entertainment business,” and he said, “Good! You don’t have any bad habits.” So Ted Henderson, who is a dear friend of mine, and I left Denver, went out to Los Angeles, opened up an office, bought some scripts, and Ted and I still joke about this to this day, we were driving back to LAX and Ted looks at me and he said, “God, how are we going to do this?” And I said, “I don’t know, Ted, but today was a good day, we spent some money, we’re on our way.” And we laugh about it to this day. We did okay, not great in that business. I’m proud of some of the things we did.
YUTKIN: How many movies did you make?
VOGEL: We did ten.
YUTKIN: What was the first one?
VOGEL: The Little Kidnappers, a co-production with the Canadian Broadcasting System, shot in 21 days in Halifax, Nova Scotia. We hired a guy out in Los Angeles, a great guy, Phil Farrelly. Phil’s claim to fame is he worked on 8 Is Enough and I think Mission Impossible and had a great background in the television production business, great guy!
YUTKIN: He was a producer, executive producer?
VOGEL: Executive producer. He was the Hollywood guy, and Phil did a great job for us, and I remember trudging up to Halifax, Nova Scotia and thinking, “Oh my God, we’re spending this for that? It’s a 21 day shoot?”
YUTKIN: How about “What am I doing here?”
VOGEL: The greatest thing about being in the movie business is watching the dailies – I mean, you can appreciate this, I used to do this in my office, I lot of people used to come and watch with me – watching the dailies, making sure we were making progress on the film, and in many ways it was like building any other business, you just built it in 21 days. And then you added the music in, you saw the rough cut and you cut it down a little bit, you worked with a lot of interesting people, and then it came the night to premier the show. You look at it, “Great!” It got to the point where I couldn’t even watch these movies; I ended up watching the crowd. We won an award in Canada for that very first picture at the Banff Film Festival. The product still runs today on the Disney Channel and others. We went on to win a couple of cable ACE awards. We did some small theatrical pictures, which were pretty tough, but okay. We did a series with Charlton Heston on the Bible I still see every Christmas and every Easter you still see the direct response ads for it. So it was a business that seemed complicated, and is complicated, but I think we boiled it down to the basics of how much are we spending, how much are we going to make, and can we get a return. To be honest with you, the way we were doing it was passbook savings like returns, and it was something that was hard to do without a big outlet to put your own films on.
YUTKIN: Did you ever consider leaving the business and going Hollywood or going more heavily into…?
VOGEL: No, not really. I’m not a Hollywood guy, as I said earlier.
YUTKIN: Who is?
VOGEL: I have a family that gives me an interesting perspective on life. We made a picture, as you know, with Jessica Tandy called Story Lady, I think the second to last picture before she passed away. My daughter was an extra. The kids got a kick out of it, and I got a kick out of it. It was just foreign to me; it was not what I do. What I do is the subscription television business, but I will tell you, after I left EchoStar and lived the life of retirement, I did talk to a couple of guys I got to know pretty well and we messed around with a couple of things, but it’s tough being an independent producer, and it’s tough to sustain the kind of consistency that I think I wanted in my life, and frankly the equity opportunity that I wanted in my life, in that business. Although when I was in it, it was a hoot. It was good fun.
YUTKIN: Okay, so you’d been with Jones for 10, 11 years, and you went to the arch enemy. You went to direct to home…
VOGEL: Helped create the arch enemy, actually.
YUTKIN: Well, it was there and there were satellites up?
VOGEL: Not when I went. No satellites up when I went.
YUTKIN: No satellite?
VOGEL: Direct TV was launched in – I think I’m going to get this right – in the fall of ’93 and came to market in roughly the summer or fall of ’94, and I went to EchoStar in March of ’94.
YUTKIN: Before their satellite went up.
VOGEL: Long before our satellite went up. Our first satellite was launched on December 28, 1996, which is another great story.
YUTKIN: I remember talking to Charlie about that when I was with Jones satellite programming because we were trying to sell programming to anybody. Alright, was it difficult to leave Jones?
VOGEL: Very. You know, I look back at my days at Jones, and you’re probably not the best audience for that, we had great people, we had a great team. I just look back at the quality of the individuals that Glenn put together, and how well we worked together as a team. I will tell you, I long to recreate that situation. That was a special place in time.
YUTKIN: It was very much so.
VOGEL: And we had great folks, and it was hard to leave. On the other hand, it wasn’t that hard to leave because, as you know, Glenn had chosen to sell an option on his shares to Bell Canada, and I think I was 36 or 37 at the time and I did not want to wake up in my 40s working for a Canadian telephone company, with all due respect to Bell Canada. Charlie just hit me at the right time. As you know, we weren’t as aggressive in the cable industry, in hindsight, as maybe we should have been. We can talk about it today, we were close on a lot of big deals and we today could have been Comcast if we hit some of those. We were close to being three-four million subs many, many times, and if we would have done that we’d probably all still be there, but who knows? Life has been good since, I can’t complain. But I actually got to know Charlie through my wife. My wife met Charlie’s wife, Candy, at a mothers of pre-schoolers things through our church or some connection. Actually it was Scott Zimmer’s wife, who was another one of the founders of EchoStar, and Scott and I had talked about the satellite business versus the cable business for probably three or four years before I went and finally took the plunge and Charlie had offered me the opportunity to join EchoStar a couple of times before, but in late 1993 the Direct TV satellite was launched successfully and Charlie was doing about 200 million dollars in revenue selling big C-band dishes, had a permit for 11 channels and an orbital slot – 11 transponders and an orbital slot – and an idea. I looked at their business plan and I said, “I can do this.” I said to Charlie, “If you’re half right, this is a home run.” Clearly, in retrospect, it was more than half right.
YUTKIN: So you joined as CFO?
VOGEL: No, I joined as COO – Chief Operating Officer. Executive VP, COO. But I became the CFO, I became the head of programming… I mean, we had no money, so we all did a lot of things, and it was professionally a great time. It was difficult on my family, but professionally it was a rush, a total rush.
YUTKIN: My guess is that probably 90% of the other people interviewed in the course of this Hauser Project would probably be saying the same thing about the cable industry ten, fifteen, twenty years before.
VOGEL: Sure, absolutely. Well, Jones was a total rush too, but this, for me, it was a blank landscape and I was lucky enough to have a chance with Charlie and a lot of his other people who I still have good relationships with, notwithstanding the fact we’re competitors. We created something unique against all odds, and there’s something to be said for that. Right now, being at Charter is a rush because we’re creating something new and different. It’s a different place in time, but it’s the same kind of experience, and I think what I have found personally is that’s what turns me on. We know each other – I like being a little bit on the edge.
YUTKIN: We have to take chances in order to succeed. It has to be in the right place at the right time. A lot of your luck you make yourself. But it all kind of comes together and I guess you can’t take it too seriously. I mean you have to be very serious about it, but you have to have your sense of humor.
VOGEL: I think you have to have your sense of humor and you have to have perspective. It could be the grace of God, it could be dumb luck, I don’t know what it is, but I think somebody said that luck is where hard work meets opportunity, and I have been presented with great opportunities and I’m not afraid of working hard, and therefore it’s been pretty good.
YUTKIN: So you were with Charlie for how many years?
VOGEL: Three years, but in dog years, 21. It was multiple, 12, 18, 16, whatever many hours it took, how many days a week, it didn’t matter. I joined Charlie in ’94, we raised a bunch of capital on Wall Street, I negotiated all the programming agreements myself with my secretary, who then went on – which I’m very proud of – went on and became a director of programming at EchoStar, and then went on to work at Discovery Channel, and it was because hard work met opportunity. A great example. I stayed until March of 1997, when we agreed to sell the company to Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch, and I went home and I talked to my wife, and you know, we did it. We accomplished what we set out to accomplish, and I had ignored my family and didn’t spend a lot of time with my wife, and I thought at the time I was in it for the money. I recognized later I was really in it for the action, and thought I had achieved most of the goals I had set out for myself and decided I was going to live the life of leisure, which lasted about seven weeks. I was not good at carpool.
YUTKIN: House husbanding was not for you.
VOGEL: My wife and I had a great relationship for 15 years and it became clear if we wanted to have a great relationship for the next 15 years I had to get the hell out of the house and get a job. So I did.
YUTKIN: Let me ask you to go out on a limb; as we sit here, Direct TV and EchoStar are in an acquisition/merger mode sitting before the government, FCC, I think, and…
VOGEL: The Department of Justice.
YUTKIN: Department of Justice.
VOGEL: FTC, Congress.
YUTKIN: Commerce, also? How do you think it’s going to turn out? We won’t hold you to it, but what’s your opinion and how do you think it’s going to wind up?
VOGEL: How do I think it’s going to wind up?
YUTKIN: Thoughts on it, first.
VOGEL: I’m probably the worst guy to ask because I ended up selling Prime Star because of a Justice Department investigation. That’s a very similar issue.
YUTKIN: That’s next, though.
VOGEL: I think there’s a high probability it passes because it’s political. I think it’s a blatant anti-trust violation in the rural market or otherwise. I think the argument that it’s competing against the big, bad cable operator is somewhat of a shallow argument because we’re not allowed to collude for anti-trust purposes. You’d have all of that public spectrum in the hands of a single operator. We pay, at Charter, more in franchise fees in a month than they pay to acquire all that spectrum. I don’t see how that’s good public policy, but again, like I said, I’m probably the worst guy to ask. It probably passes, probably passes for the wrong reason, difficult to unwind once it happens. I think a bad answer, ultimately, for the programming industry, probably forces further consolidation in the cable industry, and I think loses the diversity of voices, which has been the success and strength of our business, at least in my 20 years. So, I think that, like I said, I don’t buy the arguments. You can deliver the local channels, you may need two dishes to do it.
YUTKIN: Back up, in terms of the local channels. The local channels are not available, are available, what’s the argument there?
VOGEL: Local channels, I think, are available in 50-some markets. Both Charlie Ergen and Eddie Hartenstein have committed to make it available in all markets over time, and then there’s the overhand of must carry discussions and yada yada yada. The satellite industry is a very strong competitor today. It has, I think, served its intended purpose for both of us. It sharpened the cable operator in many ways. It’s brought better pricing and more products to the consumer.
YUTKIN: But the programming costs have not changed.
VOGEL: Programming costs have gone up for all of us, and therefore it’s incumbent upon us at Charter, and anybody in the cable industry, to develop more products, take advantage of our infrastructure. Even with a merger, that satellite can’t do. Satellite is a great digital, video product. It’s not interactive, it doesn’t provide cable modem service, it requires more infrastructure…
YUTKIN: But may.
VOGEL: Not off the existing platform. So I think we’re in a good position competitively as an industry. I think the merger’s bad public policy. I’m not a public policy expert, maybe that’s not the right word. It clearly flies in the fact of anti-trust, and I think ultimately could prove to be a sad day for what we know as multi-channel television today because it will just limit the competition in the long run.
YUTKIN: But don’t forget the third branch of government. Even if it passes, somebody’s going to appeal it.
VOGEL: True enough.
YUTKIN: And then we’ll see what happens. So, you’re not a lawyer, you’re an accountant and more than that.
VOGEL: I’m a producer.
YUTKIN: Have your people call my people. We’ll do lunch. We’ll do cake on your birthday. Okay, so you lasted seven-eight weeks as a…
VOGEL: Man of leisure.
YUTKIN: As a retired, prematurely retired, individual with five kids at home.
VOGEL: That part was okay because they weren’t home much anyway.
YUTKIN: They were all in school.
VOGEL: But again, I found that I missed the action. I missed the business. My friends were in the business.
YUTKIN: You’re not a very good gardener, I’ll bet, are you?
VOGEL: I suck at gardening, and I’m really bad at carpentry. I’m pretty good at golf, I’m pretty good at lunch, but no one would ever accuse me of being overly handy.
YUTKIN: Okay, so after seven weeks what happened?
VOGEL: I did all sorts of things. Obviously I got a lot of calls after I left EchoStar. “Why the hell did you leave?” A lot of them were foreign investors and the real reason I left, I remember telling Charlie that, “Listen, I want to part friends because if I stay we’re going to part enemies.” And like I said, I thought I accomplished what I thought my goals were at the time, and it was just time for me to move on. I looked at starting up a direct to home business in Greece – I went and screwed around over there for a little while with Andrew Tahl – with a guy that was a shipping guy that had a broadcast business. I got a call from Jim Shaw, from Shaw Communications, and they were looking at getting into the DBS business in Canada, and I ultimately went up and consulted Jim on how to do that.
YUTKIN: Can Comm?
VOGEL: Star Choice, at the time, and I helped start that company, raised a bunch of capital for that company. I had a non-compete… I couldn’t work in the U.S. in really any segment of the cable television, satellite, or programming business.
YUTKIN: How long was that for?
VOGEL: That was for a year, and so I went to Canada and had a…
YUTKIN: You didn’t move there?
VOGEL: No, no. I live in Denver, my family lives in Denver. We have a great life here. No, I commuted to Calgary and in my days at Jones I commuted to LA. So the notion of me living somewhere and working elsewhere is not anything new for me or my family. So I went up, started Star Choice with the full understanding that at the point in time my non-compete would expire I fully intended to return to the U.S. In fact, if I didn’t have a non-compete I probably would have been at Prime Star six or eight months earlier.
YUTKIN: Tell us about the history of Prime Star, the dish…
VOGEL: Prime Star I think was a great idea. It was a collection of five or six cable operators at the time.
YUTKIN: The big ones – Comcast…
VOGEL: Cox, Comcast, Continental, at the time, Time Warner, TCI, at the time, Viacom was an early partner, GE Americomm, and it was the notion of having a satellite business to essentially be a line extension of the cable business, as well as in many cases, a competitor to the cable business, under the heading of “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”
YUTKIN: Unique dish.
VOGEL: Unique dish, everybody’s was a unique dish and still is a unique dish today.
YUTKIN: Size-wise, I mean.
VOGEL: Yeah, we were a high powered KU business in a different frequency than DBS. DBS got you down to an 18-inch dish, and I was brought into Prime Star after they had decided to put all five operations together, essentially a roll-up. It was approximately 1.8, 2 million subs at the time.
YUTKIN: Based in Philly, Philadelphia?
VOGEL: It had already moved to Denver, and I was brought in…
YUTKIN: As CEO?
VOGEL: Chairman and CEO, which means I got to call the meeting because my board was John Malone, Leo Hindery, and Gary Howard from TCI; Joe Collins, Bob Miron and Carl Rossetti from Time Warner; Brian Roberts from Comcast; Jim Robbins, Ajit Dalvi from Cox; Jeff Delorham representing Continental-US West; and John Connelly represented GE Americomm; and John Goddard, who is a great guy, was the sole independent, and that was our board.
YUTKIN: Difficult to manage a board like that? No slouches among them. Nobody’s going to sit by passively.
VOGEL: It was a good board. It was a good lesson, very difficult to manage. As you can… it’s no secret, multiple agendas. Our board meetings were a reason to talk about a lot of other things, certainly before the meeting started, and certainly after the meeting ended. But it was a good lesson, a good lesson on governance. Nobody had any governance.
YUTKIN: Tact? You learned how to be tactful? You were tactful already.
VOGEL: I’m not very tactful. I think I was a little bit more direct from time to time, but it is what it is.
YUTKIN: But you survived there. How long were you there?
VOGEL: I sold the company. I was there… I thought when I went to Prime Star that it would be my platform and that I would end my career at Prime Star. At the time the EchoStar deal with Rupert had fallen apart and had been resurrected at Prime Star through the good work of Leo Hindery and others, and I went there with the full intention of trying to get that through the government and restructuring the ownership and being a significant satellite competitor. It didn’t quite work out that way. I came in June, in October we released Rupert from his obligation to merge, and on January 2nd, after Wisconsin beat UCLA in the Rose Bowl, I went over to Direct TV and worked on selling the company.
YUTKIN: Wisconsin, Wisconsin.
VOGEL: On Wisconsin.
YUTKIN: How did you get there?
VOGEL: How did I get to Prime Star?
VOGEL: I had known, obviously, all of those folks.
YUTKIN: You knew all of the participants, but…
VOGEL: And I had been a competitor. I was President at EchoStar when I left, and I had known, obviously, Rupert and his people – Chase Carrey, Dave DeVoe, Paul Hagerty, Peter Churnin – I knew all those guys. I think what Prime Star was looking for at the time was somebody that wasn’t connected to any of the owners, yet had some understanding of the business. I think I fit that pretty well. I was doing the Star Choice thing and actually ran into Leo Hindery at an investment conference and I was with my wife and we joke about it often, Carol asked me if Leo was the rush chairman because it was like pledging the fraternity. Leo came up to you and put his arm around you and said, “I think this would be really good for you and your family,” and was very convincing and it all kind of lined up. It was something I knew how to do, I knew a lot of the people, I knew the business, I knew the distribution channels, I had confidence at the time we were going to pull it off, it’s what I did. And I could sleep in the same bed I’d been sleeping in for the past 18 years.
YUTKIN: And you met John Malone? Well, you’d known John Malone before.
VOGEL: Very peripherally.
YUTKIN: But it was during that period that you got closer to him?
VOGEL: Much closer to him. I had gotten to know John a little bit better at my EchoStar days because there were a lot of conversations about merging EchoStar and Prime Star. In fact, there probably isn’t anybody that I didn’t talk to in the telecommunications industry, from the time I was at EchoStar, to make an equity investment in EchoStar, including Paul Allen.
YUTKIN: So you got to know him better?
VOGEL: Yeah, he was on my board and my executive committee.
YUTKIN: And then when Prime Star…
VOGEL: After we decided to sell Prime Star it was about the time that AT&T and TCI were coming together and Leo was president of ABIS and Leo asked me to come over and…
VOGEL: That’s what he called AT&T Broadband. AT&T Broadband and Internet Service, I think is what that stood for.
YUTKIN: Okay, that was even before they gave it that name.
VOGEL: Yeah, that’s what we called it. I don’t know if it was a formal name. Leo asked me to come over and get involved in the cable modem business, and ultimately get involved in the…
YUTKIN: When was that?
VOGEL: That was when we were winding down Prime Star. It was mid-’99. At the time, we thought there was a possibility that the cable business of AT&T could have been spun to its shareholders at the outset, very attractive. As we all know, that didn’t happen. Leo left shortly thereafter, and I was and today still am a Leo guy. I didn’t join him at Global Crossing, but had the opportunity to join the Liberty guys and continue to work for Malone and Dob Bennett and Gary Howard, and just a great group of people over at Liberty.
YUTKIN: Liberty’s a very small company.
VOGEL: 40 people.
YUTKIN: Similar to Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway? Not quite as small.
VOGEL: I don’t know enough about Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway to make the comparison.
YUTKIN: I think there may be a dozen people in the office.
VOGEL: But I think Liberty is very capable, qualified people, very smart, very intellectually stimulating, unbelievable appreciation for structure and strategy, and a great place to work. But I found that personally I was better suited to being involved again in the subscription television business. So when the Charter opportunity came along, the first guy I went to talk to was John Malone, who encouraged me to do it. He said, “I don’t want to see you leave, hate to see you leave, but this is a great opportunity, you’ve got to do it.” I still make sure I find time to talk to John when I’m in Denver because in my judgment he’s got a great perspective, on life, on the business, on technology, on where things are going, how things can get there. I think he is a great example on the important of balance in one’s life.
YUTKIN: Balance? I know he’s a sailor.
VOGEL: Balance between things he’s interested in, and it could be his family, it could be his hobbies, it could be whatever it may be in business. I’m not going home at noon to have lunch with my wife, but on the other hand, I think John’s got a good perspective. It was an honor to work for John.
YUTKIN: And that bring you up to Charter.
VOGEL: Yeah, it does. It’s an honor to work for Charter as well. It’s a great opportunity.
YUTKIN: So what’s next?
VOGEL: What’s next? I continue to see our company grow. We’re posting double digit revenue and cash flow gains. I think we’ve got the right products to sustain that over time. I’d like to get a little bigger. I’d like to be a survivor, like we were talking about earlier. I think Paul Allen lends a great perspective to our company and challenges us on the right issues and leaves us to our own devices as well. As management we’re expected to run the company and deliver the results, and we’re expected to be accountable, which is good. We’re a public company, we’re a Fortune 500 company. I think the best is yet to come for us.
YUTKIN: What about international? What’s your perspective on that? I know you’ve gone to Canada and did this little bit, and Greece…
VOGEL: My general philosophy on international is if I can’t speak the language and I can’t eat the food, I’m not leaving. So I’m pretty much a domestic guy.
YUTKIN: I mean in terms of Charter going overseas.
VOGEL: I think Charter’s got plenty of opportunity domestically. I don’t see international in our future, per se.
YUTKIN: Then let me ask you generally, not necessarily about Charter, what do you think about the future for international? As we talk, it appears that Liberty is not going to be buying the Deutsche Telecomm product, or the cable systems there. I’ve had a fair amount of international – U.K. and Poland and living in Europe – a lot of American companies have tried their hand in it, and I think for the most part they’re out of it right now. I guess there’s still a presence in Japan and so on. Do you think there’s a role to play for American cable operators? Are things just so busy here and it’s so competitive and there’s just so much going on that…?
VOGEL: I think that’s part of it. I think that a lot of emerging markets are frankly going with satellite because its ubiquity gets you to market sooner. Maybe that’s something we’d look at, but I think there’s cultural issues, as you know, there’s currency issues, there’s execution risk, there’s just a lot of risk. I think for Charter we’re best suited in trying to build our business in North America. It’s a business we understand, it’s something that we’re good at, we can leverage our existing infrastructure, and that’s hard to do internationally. So I think at least in the near-term, we’re not in a hurry to rush over, certainly with cable developments.
YUTKIN: Okay, interesting. I’m fascinated.
YUTKIN: I think you bring an excitement to your past, your present, and your future. It’s different from some of the people I’ve interviewed.
VOGEL: Well, good, I guess.
YUTKIN: Your youthful exuberance is still with you.
VOGEL: When I was being recruited to do some Internet business in my various stages of retirement, I had somebody say to me, “Well, we need somebody like you for adult supervision and mentorship.” And I thought to myself, these guys really don’t know me. They don’t want to put me in for adult supervision. I had never considered myself to being the grayer haired guy in the group, although I guess I’m getting there. Not quite like you.
YUTKIN: Well, not quite like I am. Well, I’m a few months older than you are anyway. Thank you very much.
VOGEL: My pleasure, thank you.
YUTKIN: I enjoyed it. I learned a lot. I’ve actually learned a lot about what you’ve been doing in the last seven years.
VOGEL: Good, thanks.
YUTKIN: This has been funded by the Hauser Oral and Video History Project of The Cable Center’s Oral and Video History Program. And good luck.
VOGEL: Thank you very much, Gerry. Thanks to The Cable Center. Thank you. I appreciate it.