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This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the September 4, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Life in the Fast Lane
Carnegie Center-based RCN will sell its central New
Jersey cable systems for $245 million to Patriot Media & Communications
and its partner, Spectrum Equity Investors. Patriot is owned by a
Harvard-trained lawyer who founded and sold his own cable company
before becoming an author of best-selling children’s picture books.
Patriot Media has promised to spend $44 million to do much-needed
upgrades, to keep 95 RCN employees, and to hire 30 more for its future
headquarters in central New Jersey.
Patriot’s CEO, Steve Simmons, is a Long Island native who went to
Cornell University, Class of 1968, and Harvard Law School. He taught
at the University of California, and was associate director of domestic
policy in the Jimmy Carter administration. He founded a small cable
television company, Simmons Communications, grew it to have 55 offices
with 600 employees in 20 states, then sold it in 1992 to spend more
time with his children, write songs, take sculpture and guitar lessons,
and write children’s books.
Simmons’ picture books, illustrated by Cyd Moore, have been best sellers.
The first was "Alice and Greta" in 1997, followed by "Greta’s
Revenge" and "Jasper, the Fish Who Saved a Marriage."
Recently he helped start some Internet companies and worked on a half-hour
animated television series.
Spectrum has $3 billion under management and has also invested in
ITXC, the Internet telecom on College Road.
Although RCN just went through another round of layoffs, it has nearly
$500 million in cash on hand, in addition to the cash from the sale
and access to a $187 million line of credit.
"Although a great market and cable property, central New Jersey
wasn’t critical to our overall plan, and we can use the nearly quarter
of a billion dollars in proceeds from the sale to accelerate our growth
in other markets," said CEO David McCourt in a prepared statement.
His strategy is to build systems in metropolitan areas to offer cable,
telephone and high-speed data services that compete with the top-tier
Not only does Central Jersey not qualify as a major metropolitan area,
but its more than 80,000 subscribers are using outdated systems that
RCN inherited in 1997 from the former C-TEC Corp. The network serves
81 municipalities, including the Princetons, Rocky Hill, Franklin,
and Montgomery. "The New Jersey systems are among the few cable
systems that RCN did not build itself and that RCN operates outside
a major metropolitan market," said McCourt.
08540. David C. McCourt, CEO. 609-734-3700; fax, 609-734-7551. Home
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