Telewest shake-up prompts chief executive's departure

The chief executive of the country's largest cable company is to leave with immediate effect, it emerged last night, in the wake of the latest management shake-up in the struggling UK cable sector.

The departure of Alan Michels, head of Telewest Communications, follows a board meeting yesterday to discuss management restructuring and future strategy. Mr Michels, who could pocket pounds 1m of compensation, is expected to be replaced by Stephen Davidson, currently finance director, who would become the first British executive to head up one of the top UK cable operators. Mr Davidson, a banker by training, has worked with large media clients, and was senior vice-president, corporate finance, at Lorimar, now a subsidiary of Time Warner.

The change marks the third time this year a large cable company has changed chief executives. Most recently, Dan Somers took over from Alan Bates at Bell Cablemedia, the third largest operator.

Industry sources said the changes reflected a desire to replace largely technical management with executives more attuned to marketing, in an effort to boost disappointingly low penetration rates, particularly for cable television.

Mr Michels, who joined Telewest from one of its parent companies, US West, in 1994, spent most of his career in financial analysis. Under his direction, the cable operator saw telephony penetration rates improve, although the cable television side performed far less well. He is to spend some time with his family, following his return to the US.

"I hope this means the end of a steady stream of Americans, coming in to run cable companies for two-year stints," one Telewest insider said.

Another senior industry source added: "The company has been a bit of a shambles from a customer point of view."

But Mr Michels received support from some colleagues. One said: "He has worked bloody hard in a very difficult industry."

Mr Michels was on a three-year fixed contract worth pounds 500,000 a year. He is expected to be paid pounds 1m in lieu of a two-year notice period. His remuneration had included an amount to cover tax liabilities as well as a housing allowance worth pounds 63,000 a year.

One industry observer predicted last night that the restructuring could mark a turning point for the cable industry, which has been unable to find television programming to attract customers and drive subscriptions. Telewest and the second-largest operator, Nynex CableComms, effectively dropped plans to develop cable-exclusive programming, and signed long- term supply agreements with BSkyB, Rupert Murdoch's satellite broadcaster.

The cable industry is just over halfway through a pounds 10bn plan to link UK homes to cable for television and telephony services. The sector has been given a rough ride by the City, which has been impatient over slow growth of the subscriber base.

Comment, page 19

News
i100
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsAll just to promote a new casino
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
Boris Johnson may be manoeuvring to succeed David Cameron
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Java/Calypso Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Java/Calypso Developer Java, Calypso, J2EE, J...

SQL Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer SQL, C#, Stored Procedures, MDX...

C#.NET Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, WPF, WCF, ASP.NET, Prism...

Web Developer/UI Developer (HTML5, CSS3,Jquery) London

£55000 - £65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...

Day In a Page

Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband