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COUDERSPORT COULD GET CLOBBERED
SALE OF ADELPHIA EXPECTED TO AFFECT CORPORATE-LEVEL JOBS

Adelphia employees in Western New York will still have a job when Time Warner takes over local cable systems, but the same may not be true in the company's former hometown of Coudersport, Pa.

Ron Cooper, chief operating officer of Adelphia Communications, said that corporate-level employees are not guaranteed a job when the takeover is complete, unlike workers who run the local cable system. There are nearly 1,000 corporate employees in Coudersport, plus 350 at a call center.

"There is considerable concern and obviously people would like to know if they have opportunities or not," he said during an interview Friday in Buffalo.

Adelphia was founded in Coudersport by John Rigas in 1952. Its headquarters moved to the Denver area in 2003 after an accounting scandal drove it into bankruptcy.

Under a deal announced Thursday, Time Warner Cable will take over much of Adelphia's systems, including the Buffalo-area network with 300,000 subscribers and 1,700 workers. The deal, in which Time Warner and Comcast Corp. split Adelphia assets, is expected to close in nine to 12 months after regulatory and bankruptcy court approval.

Time Warner Cable currently serves the Rochester, Syracuse, Binghamton and Albany areas.

Subscribers shouldn't need to turn in cable boxes after the deal goes through, Cooper said. Time Warner Cable spokesman Keith Cocozza said it was too early to say whether all existing boxes would remain in service, or whether Internet subscribers will have to change their e-mail addresses.

In Western New York, Adelphia continues with an $18 million system upgrade that will extend video-on-demand capability to all homes, from about 70 percent now, area vice president of operations Tom Haywood said. The work, installing fiber optic cable to increase transmission capacity, should be complete this fall, he said.

Time Warner officials have said they expect to save $200 million a year by eliminating duplicate operations as the company absorbs Adelphia systems.

However, fears that Adelphia's Buffalo call center might close and its tasks be sent to Time Warner facilities aren't well grounded, Cooper said.

"Time Warner and Comcast will be taking on substantial numbers of new customers," and will need staff to support them, he said. Time Warner Cable will add 3.5 million customers in the transaction, bringing its total to 14.4 million.

Despite the pending takeover, Adelphia will this year offer residential phone service in a number of markets totaling 1.5 million customers, Cooper said, starting with Colorado Springs. He wouldn't say whether Buffalo is on the list.

Although the terms of the buyout deal allow further bids to be considered, Cooper said the process of soliciting bidders over the past several months has been "very rigorous."

It's undetermined what Adelphia shareholders and unsecured creditors might receive in the deal. That will be spelled out in a plan to be filed in Adelphia's bankruptcy case in New York, Cooper said.

e-mail: fwilliams@buffnews.com

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