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Insight-ful Questions Expected Tuesday

Insight Communications Co. Inc. still believes it's on track to close its system deal with Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) by year's end, but the New York-based MSO has offered no new insight as to whether it plans to restart an effort to find a buyer for the rest of itself.

The future of Insight should be a hot topic Tuesday morning, when Insight executives discuss the company's third-quarter results and take questions from industry analysts. (See Insight Reports Q3.)

In September, reports swirled that The Carlyle Group LLC had taken Insight off the table after the debt markets went haywire. The Wall Street Journal said bids for the operator were roughly $200 million short of an expected range of $2.5 billion to $3 billion. Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), which operates systems that would cluster nicely with some of Insight's, was one of the operators that confirmed interest in Insight. (See Is Insight Off the Block? and Time Warner Seeking Insight .)

In May, Insight hired two firms -- Morgan Stanley and Waller Capital Corp. -- to advise the MSO on its options, including a sale or a possible expansion through acquisitions. (See Is Insight on the Block? )

A sale appeared to be the most likely, as Insight was already in the process of handing control of systems passing 1.2 million homes in the Midwest to Comcast. (See Comcast, Insight Divvy Up Midwest.)

Insight execs told Multichannel News recently that the sale option never reached auction status, and that the company is prepared to operate under the existing ownership structure. More details will likely come to light on Tuesday.

After unwinding the Comcast partnership, Insight, which went private in 2005, will still have systems passing 1.3 million homes in Kentucky (Louisville, Lexington, Bowling Green, and Covington); Evansville, Ind.; and Columbus, Ohio. On Monday, Insight said it expects the deal with Comcast will close by year's end.

Also on Monday, Insight posted third-quarter revenues of $362.3 million, up 14 percent year over year, citing growth of revenue generating units (RGUs) and video rate increases. It ended the period with 2.99 million revenue generating units, up 15 percent.

Insight added 21,000 basic subs in the quarter, versus an improvement of 4,700 from the year-ago period, and marking the best third-quarter performance in this category in company history.

In other service categories, the company added 47,900 high-speed subs, up from 44,800; signed on 26,100 new digital video subs, versus 25,500; and added 44,000 telephone customers, compared to just 5,700 in the year-ago quarter.

As of September 30, 2007, roughly 98 percent of Insight's customers were passed by two-way plant built out to 750 MHz or greater.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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