March 24, 2017 / 3:26 PM / 5 months ago

Trump touts Charter hiring that was in works for two years

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday touted Charter Communications Inc's decision to invest $25 billion in the United States and a plan the company announced before he was elected to hire 20,000 workers over four years.

At a White House event with the second-largest U.S. cable company's Chief Executive Thomas Rutledge and Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Trump praised Charter for planning to close its offshore call centers and move them to the United States.

Much of the announcement was not new. Charter said last May that it planned to add 20,000 jobs as part of its merger with Time Warner Cable and acquisition of Bright House Networks. As early as June 2015, Rutledge said Charter would need an additional 20,000 employees after those deals.

On a number of occasions, Trump has touted job announcements at the White House that had been previously planned or announced

The company said more than a year ago in February 2016 that it planned to close foreign Time Warner Cable call centers and move the jobs to the United States.

On Friday, Trump said, "We're embracing a new economic model - the American Model. We’re going to massively eliminate job-killing regulations - that has started already, big league - reduce government burdens, and lower taxes that are crushing American businesses and American workers.

"You’re going to see thousands and thousands and thousands of jobs, of companies, and everything coming back into our country."

Charter, which has 24 million residential and business customers in 41 states, said on Friday it had committed to Trump to hiring those workers within four years. It plans to invest $25 billion in broadband infrastructure and technology in the next four years.

Charter Communications CEO Thomas Rutledge (R) and Texas Governor Greg Abbotts (L) speak to reporters after their meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2017.Kevin Lamarque

In May 2016 Rutledge said in a recorded interview there would be some overlap in management positions (after the TWC merger) but said the company would hire about 20,000 people over four years.

Rutledge said the broadband investment was being made "in the right regulatory climate and right tax climate ... We’re committed to spending that predicated on the kind of regulatory consistency and efficiency that we expect as a country."

Charter agreed in May 2016 to make significant broadband investment under a deal with the Federal Communications Commission that was part of winning approval to acquire the cable networks. At that time Charter agreed to extend high-speed internet access to another two million customers within five years, with one million served by a broadband competitor.

Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement on Friday that the commission was "working to set rules of the road that encourage companies to build and upgrade broadband networks across the country." He credited the FCC's "investment-friendly policies" in part for Charter's commitments.

The agency is considering a petition by the American Cable Association to strike the requirement Charter extend service to areas already served by companies because it could harm smaller competitors.

Charter also touted its plans to open a new bilingual call center in McAllen, Texas and said it expects to employ 600 there by the end of 2018. Plans to open a call center in Texas were announced last October.

In December, Trump announced that telecommunications group Sprint Corp and U.S. satellite company OneWeb would bring 8,000 jobs to the United States, and the companies said the positions were part of a previously disclosed pledge by Japan's SoftBank Group Corp.

In January, Sprint Chief Executive Marcelo Claure said of its decision to shift 5,000 call center jobs to the United States that the company "had plans to do this for a while."

Reporting By Steve Holland and David Shepardson in Washinggton Additional reporting by Anjali Athavaley in New York; Editing by Toni Reinhold

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