In the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, Cox Communications this week pledged its commitment to employees and customers in New Orleans, promising to restore cable service there and to "be a key partner in the rebuilding of the city."
The MSO also verified the safety of 60 percent of its New Orleans employees. Cox has issued two contact phone numbers for employees - one to report their whereabouts (800-637-3545 option #7), and another to receive updates (866-217-7363).
"The tragic devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans is unprecedented in American history. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone along the Gulf Coast whose lives have been impacted," said Cox President & CEO Jim Robbins, in a statement. "In this time of crisis, our top priorities remain locating employees to verify their safety and well-being and the swift restoration of vital services to our customers."
The operator has also established the Cox Employee Disaster Relief Fund to aid employees.
"Through the Relief Fund, we'll be able to help our employees and their families recover and rebuild," said Cox COO Pat Esser. "We want our employees and customers in New Orleans to know that we are committed to rebuilding our cable telecommunications system to a state-of-the-art facility as quickly as humanly possible."
Cox has suspended billing from Monday, Aug. 29 for its residential and commercial customers in the New Orleans area until services are restored. The MSO will post updates on the restoration on the Web at www.cox.com and www.cox.net.
Financial support for the relief and recovery efforts continued to pour in from cable entities late into the week. Among the latest:
• Comcast Corp. and The Comcast Foundation will donate $10 million in advertising time on cable systems, and $50,000 in cash to the American Red Cross. The company will also offer on-demand American Red Cross updates, benefit concerts and other information related to relief efforts.
• The Grand Ole Opry and Great American Country set plans for a Hurricane relief benefit. GAC will run the commercial-free "Country Reaches Out" event live on Sept. 27 at 8 p.m. ET. Artists scheduled to appear include Alan Jackson, Alison Krauss, Craig Morgan and Billy Currington. Profits from the show's ticket sales will benefit the Red Cross. Sister networks DIY Network and Fine Living will simulcast the event. It will also be offered on 650 WSM AM, Sirius Satellite Radio and www.opry.com.
• News Corp. pledged $1 million to the Salvation Army. The company will also match - dollar-for-dollar - contributions made by company employees to accredited charities up to $1 million. The Fox Networks Group has also committed more than $5 million in commercial ad time for public service announcements benefiting the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and USA Freedom Corps. Fox, FX and FSN will also participate in an industry-wide simulcast of a benefit concert and telethon to be scheduled for next week.