Vail, Colo.-- Tele-Communications Inc. president and chief
operating officer Leo J. Hindery Jr. last week hinted that TCI will have
strategic-alliance news to report next week, when the MSO hosts its annual conference for
investors in Denver.
"I wouldn't miss the event [the week of March
23]," Hindery said at a Janco Partners conference here. "I think that
you'll understand quite well where we're headed by then." He added that the
possible alliance "is all based around the box."
Hindery's remarks were in the context of 1998 becoming
"the year of industry alliances."
TCI has been trying to strike deals that would link
AT&T Corp. to a nationwide platform for IP (Internet-protocol) telephony and data
services. @Home Network, which is controlled by TCI, and Time Warner Cable's Road
Runner have held related merger talks, sources report.
Hindery said, "I'm going down the IP route over
my cable plant, and I expect, as I've said repeatedly, that we'll partner."
He added that the lifeline-powering issues related to hybrid fiber-coaxial telephony make
that option the weaker choice now.
Also at the Janco conference, David Flowers, vice president
and treasurer of TCI's programming arm, Liberty Media Group, said its Odyssey network
needs work. "It's in 30 million homes, and nobody watches it," he said,
adding that its backers have agreed to "bring somebody in that can really program
Separately, Liberty and TCI Group said they have altered
the terms of last summer's deal, which shifted control of the Encore and Starz! movie
services to Liberty from TCI.
Liberty will get the 20 percent of Encore Media Group that
was owned by TCI Group, bumping Liberty's stake up to 100 percent. Liberty also owes
TCI Group $288 million, down from the earlier $400 million.
TCI Group, in return, will cut its affiliate fees to
Liberty for Encore and Starz! products by $55 million per year over the 25-year deal.
Liberty was scheduled to get $270 million in fees in 1998,
rising to $360 million in 2003 and rising on inflation after that. Analysts said the
revision may help TCI Group more by adding to yearly cash flow.