CABLE CONGRESS 2013 – LONDON. As Neil Berkett prepares to depart the stage, the man who has arguably been the most successful CEO in UK cable said he was immensely proud of what has been built at Virgin Media.
“We didn’t know the value would be created with Liberty Global,” Berkett told Cable Congress in the traditional keynote for the host company “It was absolutely the right decision for our shareholders, our employees, and most importantly our customers”.
His speech likened the build out of the broadband network to the great engineering projects of Victorian England. “Superfast communications are as important to national success as canals and railways were in the past. The cable sector has not only avoided the recession but has grown. Our services are the new arteries of the economy. Without our commitment the digital infrastructure would not be as developed as it is.”
Like a departing prime minister freed of the burdens of office Berkett, who will leave Virgin once the takeover by Liberty Global is complete, said cable had been hampered by the local franchise structure and a lack of strong people at the top. “Cable is a slow starter in many countries. In the UK we were comprehensively left behind by satellite.”
Picking up one of the themes of the conference, Berkett warned against what he called clumsy intervention by governments and any focus on short term projects where the market was already working.