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Are you listening, Comcast? Charter says it could hire 20,000 for service-related jobs

Charter Communications Inc. CEO Tom Rutledge told analysts on Thursday that the cable company could hire 20,000 for new service-related jobs if it merges with Time Warner Cable Inc. and Bright House Networks to slash the outsourcing of service calls to overseas centers and hire more in-house techs.

It seems like good customer service vows have broken out like a rash all over the cable industry.

Rutledge, a long-time cable executive, has boosted employment at Charter by about 43 percent over the last several years as he has transformed the former bankrupt cablecaster into a smooth operator that has proposed acquiring Time Warner Cable and Bright House. Federal regulators are expected to make a decision on the Charter/Time Warner Cable/Bright House deal within months.  The regulators opposed a similar deal when Comcast Corp. proposed it.

At Charter, Rutledge has curtailed outsourcing of customer serivce operations and says he would do the same with newly acquired companies. Using his model, Rutledge estimates that he would need the additional 20,000 employees. Charter has not said how long it would take to hire them.

On Thursday, Charter said it added 29,000 TV subscribers in the fourth quarter. Comcast, the nation's largest cable company that is revamping its customer service with thousands of new employees and hundreds of millions of dollars, said on Wednesday that the Philadelphia company added 89,000 TV customers in the period, its best performance since late 2006.