Chicago -- Ameritech New Media's entry into the Windy
City has been delayed by a 11th-hour demand by the community's African-American
aldermen that the company consider minority-ownership participation in the franchise.
Telco Ameritech Corp.'s video arm -- as well as
Tele-Communications Inc. and Prime Cable, which are in pursuit of refranchise -- have
already committed to affirmative-action plans that require the media companies to award 40
percent of contracts to minority-held companies and 12 percent to women-run businesses.
The aldermen would like to discuss ways to make the
ownership of the new franchise reflective of the demographic that it will serve. The far
south side of Chicago is 64 percent African-American and 10 percent Hispanic. However, a
law dating back to the mid-1980s, aimed at preventing influence-peddling, prohibits direct
contact between aldermen and potential city vendors.
Further, Ameritech officials said minority ownership is not
possible because the cable company is a wholly owned subsidiary of a publicly held
The parties hope to resolve their differences at a board of
aldermen committee meeting on cable finance July 28.