ST. LOUIS (AP) – Charter Communications 3Q loss narrows partly on increased sales of bundled services 

Cable operator Charter Communications on Thursday reported a narrower third-quarter loss compared with a year earlier, helped by gains in phone and high-speed Internet revenue as well as cable TV price increases. But the St. Louis-based company, which is controlled by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen, continues to struggle with its debt burden. It reported interest expenses of $478 million in the quarter, which wiped out its $208 million operating income.

Charter reported a loss of $322 million, or 86 cents per share, compared with a loss of $407 million, or $1.10 per share, a year earlier.

Prior-year results included a $56 million write-down on the value of its assets.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters predicted a loss of 67 cents per share. Analysts' estimates typically exclude one-time items.

Revenue rose 7 percent to $1.64 billion from $1.53 billion.

Charter said customers signed up for 205,400 new lines of service in the quarter, up 50 percent from 2007. Sign-ups include existing customers who buy more services.

Subscribers on average paid $106.07 per month, up 11 percent from last year, as they signed up for advanced services, upgraded to more expensive tiers and bought bundles of video, Internet and phone services.

Video revenue rose 2.6 percent to $867 million, buoyed by 61,600 new digital cable customers as the number of basic cable customers fell by nearly 26,000. Video prices rose 6.6 percent to $58.87 a month on average, which includes pay-per-view purchases.

High-speed Internet revenue was up 7.5 percent to $342 million, and phone revenue rose 53 percent to $144 million. Charter added 70,900 new Internet customers in the quarter, 32 percent more than it added a year earlier, and 98,000 new phone customers, up 60 percent.

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