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CABLE LEADERS WARN COMPANIES TO WATCH RATE INCREASES
Published May 6, 1998
NCTA President Decker Anstrom urged cable companies "to hold prices down to keep the government from changing its mind about deregulation," according to the AP's Jeanine Aversa. Anstrom made his remarks at the NCTA Show in Atlanta. Most recent figures show that cable TV prices rose 7.9% for the 12-month period ending March 31, a period during which overall inflation rose "just" 1.4%. Anstrom: "There is not a speech I give or a meeting I have in which I don't say to the industry: 'Look, you need to be really, really careful about price increases. We know there is a sensitivity there both with our customers as well as policy- makers." Also in Atlanta, FCC Chair Bill Kennard "reminded" cable companies that his agency "has an obligation to protect consumers," and "urged" them to "show restraint" when considering rate increases (AP/PHIL. INQUIRER, 5/6). CONVENTION NOTES: TCI CEO John Malone told reporters yesterday that he "will refuse" to pass through the HDTV formats that CBS and NBC have selected. Malone: "I'm not saying I can't technically carry it, but I'm not going to voluntarily do it. It's not the wave of the future, it's a spectrum hog" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 5/6). TCI "tried to soften" Malone's words later in the day, issuing a statement that its next "generation" of cable decoder boxes will be "capable of passing through" all HDTV formats. But TCI "stopped short of guaranteeing it would pick up those signals" (USA TODAY, 5/6)....USA TODAY's David Lieberman examines Ted Turner's future in the cable TV industry: "Turner still has his passions, of course. Yet it's hard to see them reflected in Time-Warner's business plans. It's too risky to indulge in maverick ideas in a world of huge conglomerates where companies that compete in one business must co-exist as partners in another. ... Meanwhile, Turner's life-long dream of owning one of the broadcast networks is slipping away unfulfilled" (USA TODAY, 5/6)