SBC Communications Inc. has halted franchising efforts at
its recently acquired Ameritech New Media subsidiary, putting the MSO's future in
doubt, sources said last week, confirming an earlier published report.
News that ANM is no longer pursuing new cable franchises
raised concerns that SBC -- which historically has shied away from offering cable service
-- may shut down or sell the MSO, which has existing deals with 114 communities containing
1.7 million households.
Sources said ANM has been canceling meetings with local
officials "all over Chicago" -- an area where the company has been actively
seeking franchises in recent months.
"I got the impression that pink slips were
expected," one source said after a discussion with an ANM executive.
However, Ameritech Corp. spokesman Dave Pacholcyzk said no
decision has been made concerning ANM's future, adding that SBC was only conducting a
review of its companywide operations in the wake of its acquisition of the Chicago-based
Pacholcyzk said the team looking at ANM is one of 60
reviewing all aspects of the business.
"SBC consistently said during the 18 months of the
merger review that it would take a look at all parts of the business," he said.
"Right now, we're focusing on the franchises we've built and have. I
don't think we're seeking any new ones. We'll conduct our review and
announce our findings in the months ahead."
When the Federal Communications Commission recently signed
off on the SBC/Ameritech merger, the conditions did not address the cable operations.
Following its acquisition of Pacific Telesis Group,
regional Bell operating company SBC spiked cable operations in San Jose, Calif., and cable
build-outs elsewhere in the state. And its Southern New England Telecommunications Corp.
subsidiary recently won permission to delay its build-out of a statewide cable franchise
As far as ANM, however, SBC is dealing with the
nation's largest cable overbuilder, with more than 200,000 customers in four states.