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AT & T to Give FCC Sub Data

4/09/2000 8:00 PM Eastern

Washington-AT & T Corp. said it would give the Federal Communications Commission more information about Time Warner Entertainment and about compliance with cable-ownership rules in connection with the MediaOne Group Inc. merger.

AT & T decision's came after the FCC released an April 6 letter to AT & T and MediaOne officials expressing concern that AT & T had declined to forward the information until after the commission indicated whether it would grant AT & T a waiver from cable-ownership rules.

"We never indicated that we were going to wait for a recommendation or a decision on the waiver before sending this information," AT & T spokesman Jim McGann said, adding that AT & T would forward the information soon in the form requested by the FCC.

In the letter, FCC Cable Services Bureau chief Deborah Lathen cited Betsy Brady, AT & T's vice president of federal-government affairs, as having informed the agency that AT & T would not provide the information "until a decision or recommendation" had been made about the waiver.

Asked to explain the conflict, the FCC said it stood by its view that AT & T had declined to provide the information without guidance on the waiver.

"[Lathen's] letter accurately reflects the communication between the bureau staff and the parties," FCC spokeswoman Michelle Russo said.

Lathen's letter asked AT & T to explain two articles in the TWE partnership agreement and to update the number of cable subscribers attributable to AT & T after the MediaOne acquisition.

McGann stressed that the information was already contained in the record, adding, "This is much ado about nothing."

AT & T has agreed to pay $56.4 billion for MediaOne, making AT & T the country's largest cable operator after the close.

The company is seeking an 18-month wavier from a rule that bars a cable operator from serving more than 30 percent of all pay TV subscribers. The rule is not being enforced pending judicial review.

AT & T would have 40 percent of the pay TV subscriber market after buying MediaOne, depending on whether AT & T's stake in TWE is counted toward the cap. Without TWE, it would have about 29 percent.

In an April 6 reply to Lathen, Brady urged the FCC to hasten its review of the merger, noting that AT & T sought the necessary approvals nine months ago. MCN

 

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