Charter announces bid to buy Time Warner Cable

On Wednesday, the Charter cable company will formally take control of Time Warner Cable and another smaller operator, Bright House, in a $65 billion mega merger.

I know you’re wondering how this affects you if you are one of the millions of people who get cable from any of these companies. The answer is that you won’t notice any big changes right away.

But gradually, in the coming months, Charter will strip away Time Warner Cable and Bright House’s names and introduce its own branding.

This means the much-maligned Time Warner Cable (TWC) name — a piece of cable television history — is going away.

Charter (CHTR) calls its cable TV and broadband services “Spectrum.”

“As we go all digital market by market, we will launch the Spectrum brand product, pricing and packaging, and Charter will also launch Spectrum in those markets in which Bright House and Time Warner Cable have already gone all digital,” a Charter spokesman said.

This will take awhile.

On a trip to a big Time Warner Cable market, Los Angeles, last week, I spotted at least a dozen trucks with Time Warner Cable logos on the side, some of them looking brand new. Charter will be replacing those logos and training the technicians in its ways of doing business.

Charter has somewhat higher marks for customer service than Time Warner Cable, though the industry as a whole is not very popular among customers.

Charter is hoping to win new fans in other Time Warner Cable markets like New York.

“We talk about the Charter playbook,” which CEO Tom Rutledge and his lieutenants “have been implementing at Charter over the past 4 years and which has led to the successes Charter is seeing today,” the company spokesman said. “We will be applying that playbook across the footprint of the combined company.”

Rutledge is expected to speak in more detail about that later today.

The merger won its final approval last week from California’s Public Utilities Commission. So Wednesday is the day that the deal will actually take effect.

Outgoing Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus emailed his employees earlier this week to say farewell.

“For most of you, who will be moving on to New Charter, the future is extremely bright. Tom Rutledge and the team he has assembled are seasoned, talented leaders with proven track records of success,” he wrote. “New Charter will have terrific operating momentum and the scale necessary to tap new opportunities that none of the three companies could have on its own.”

Some Time Warner Cable employees, especially in management, will be exiting as a result of the merger.

A Charter spokesman also said that Charter will be “bringing back to the U.S.” some overseas Time Warner Cable “call center jobs.”

Full disclosure here: My wife works for the local news division of Time Warner Cable. And I work for the CNN division of Time Warner. The two companies share a name because they used to be two pieces of the same company. But in 2009 Time Warner spun off the cable half.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve had people mix up the two similarly-named, but separate, companies. Retiring the Time Warner Cable name will make life simpler.