Ameritech Starts Sales of HBO in Detroit


Ameritech New Media finally began offering Home Box Office
and Cinemax in five Detroit suburbs Jan. 1.

The premium channels became available with the expiration
of an exclusive contract between HBO and MediaOne, an affiliate of U S West Media Group
(UMG), at midnight Dec. 31.

Ameritech officials said the end of the exclusive deal
allowed it to offer HBO, HBO2, HBO3 and Cinemax to its customers in the Michigan
communities of Plymouth, Plymouth Township, Northville, Northville Township and Canton

'This is a New Year's present for
cable-television subscribers throughout the area,' said ANM president Deborah Lenart,
in a statement.

Ameritech Corp.'s video arm had been precluded from
offering the programming by a contract between HBO and Continental Cablevision Inc., which
UMG inherited when it acquired the MSO. The contract prohibited HBO from supplying its
lineup to any 'wired cable' system that competes with the MSO anywhere in the

Although the 1992 Cable Act outlawed such contracts as
uncompetitive, deals signed prior to June 1, 1990, were allowed to stand under a
grandfather clause.

Ameritech had asked the Federal Communications Commission
to strike the contract on the grounds that Continental was applying the same terms to
Michigan systems that it acquired after the June 1, 1990, deadline.

It followed up this past May by asking the FCC to update
its program-access rules to ensure that new market entrants have equal access to all cable

The FCC voted 5-0 last month to review Ameritech's

Meanwhile, Ameritech spokesman Geoff Potter said the
company will offer its new programming as part of its various packages, but it
doesn't plan any special promotional offerings.

'We'll just let our customers in the area know
that it's available,' he said.