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Analysts ponder Charter, Univision futures as debt payments loom

Darren Murph

We've known for years that Charter Communications isn't what you'd call a "stellar" cable operator, but we had no idea things were looking this dire for the outfit. According to a new report surfacing at Reuters, the St. Louis-based MSO is currently holding a net debt of around $21 billion, and it has purportedly said that it may need to "go into bankruptcy to deal with that burden." In order to stay afloat this long, it has "refinanced and extended its maturities every year since 2004," and just before Christmas it asked a longtime financial adviser to "start talks with bondholders to boost its financial flexibility." In related news, things aren't looking much brighter for Spanish-language media giant Univision, which recently reported a stiff 25% drop in automotive advertising. For awhile, it seemed the media firms were almost untouchable, but the recent downturns in the economy could be taking their toll on a few mainstays. Ah well, at least Charter subscribers can now somewhat justify those rate increases... somewhat.

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