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Bloomberg Boasts Business-Focused Election Coverage

New York— In what it claims is a network first, Bloomberg Television will provide live coverage on Election Day from a strictly business-focused viewpoint. The news network announced it will air 2006 Vote: Business and the Ballot, reporting on midterm elections and key referendums with a special focus on the 50 with the most-pronounced potential impact on business.

“Election coverage, to our knowledge, has never been looked at before with an eye toward business economics,” said Anita Tobias of Bloomberg's affiliate-marketing team. She said their analysis would help people understand how changes in the House and Senate could affect taxes, among other things. “People really vote with their pocketbooks,” she added.

Kicking off at 8 p.m. on Nov. 7, the coverage — anchored by journalist and political analyst Judy Woodruff, and the host of Conversations With Judy Woodruff — will include analysis of the economic implications of hotly contested races, including effects on state taxes, the minimum wage, stem-cell research, and other areas in which industries are investing.

Adelphia Bankruptcy Docs Declassified, Posted to Web

New York— Certain documents related to Adelphia Communications' bankruptcy, previously filed under seal and/or otherwise restricted from public dissemination, have been declassified and made publicly available, according to a filing with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York by the bankrupt cable operator.

The declassified documents — which relate to the resolution process created under the Bankruptcy Court's order in aid of confirmation, dated Aug. 4, 2005 — are available online (www.adelphiarestructuring.com) for review and download.

'Penguins' March to School With Hallmark Teacher's Guide

New York— Hallmark Channel has created an educator's guide to support the U.S. TV premiere of Academy Award-winning film March of the Penguins, which will debut on the network Nov. 25 at 9 p.m. (ET/PT).

Among topics covered by the guide, currently available at www.hallmarkchannel.com, are: the Antarctic and the Emperor penguins found there; how penguins physically and behaviorally adapt to their environment; how penguins develop and rely on interdependent community skills; how prospective penguin parents get together; the parenting skills and responsibilities of male vs. female penguins; and the early months of baby penguins.

California Phone Rollouts Have Cox Footprint Covered

Atlanta— With the rollout of its Cox Digital Telephone service in Santa Barbara and Palos Verdes, Calif., Cox Communications is now offering telelphony in all 35 of its major U.S. markets.

Cox, which has some 6.7 million customers overall, said 1.9 million consumers and 150,000 businesses use its Digital Telephone service. The operator began offering local phone service in 1997, and it rolled out its first Internet Protocol-based phone service in 2003.

Mediacom Loses 22 Stations In Squabble With Sinclair

Middletown, N.Y.— Mediacom Communications will lose the broadcast signals from 22 Sinclair Broadcast Group stations Nov. 30, after a federal judge denied the cable distributor's motion to issue a preliminary injunction that would block Sinclair from pulling its feeds.

The decision, handed down Oct 24 from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, is a setback for Mediacom, which has resisted demands from Sinclair that the cable company pay it fees in exchange for retransmission consent. Sinclair said 800,000 Mediacom subscribers are affected by the decision.

Mediacom recently filed an antitrust suit against Sinclair. The court ruled in its decision that the cable operator is “unlikely to succeed on the merits of its antitrust claim” against Sinclair.

Mediacom senior vice president and general counsel Joe Young declined to detail Sinclair's demands, but he maintained that the company is “very much playing hardball” and taking a position of, “It's either our way or the highway.”

Young said Mediacom has reached retransmission-consent deals with other broadcasters that include agreements for Mediacom to buy local advertising on TV stations, or to build fiber links connecting TV stations to Mediacom's network.

Top AT&T Exec Pans Neutrality Proposal

Washington— A senior AT&T executive last week rejected a proposal that would require the company to adhere to Internet nondiscrimination rules in order to gain approval from the Federal Communications Commission to merge with BellSouth Corp.

The Internet-regulation proposal, advanced by a coalition funded by Google, Yahoo, eBay, and Amazon, would require AT&T to promise not to discriminate “in their carriage and treatment of Internet traffic based on the source, destination or ownership of such traffic.”

The “net neutrality” condition would apply to AT&T, but no other provider of broadband Internet access in the U.S.

“The proper place to be debating the pros and cons of net neutrality is in the U.S. Congress or in an industry-wide proceeding at the FCC,” said AT&T senior executive vice president Jim Cicconi. FCC chairman Kevin Martin has agreed to launch an agency study of market conditions facing broadband access providers and Web-based providers of voice, video and data services.

The FCC vote, scheduled for Nov. 3, is the last regulatory hurdle facing the $81 billion deal. AT&T has been forced to make a number of concessions because only four of five FCC members are planning to cast votes.

A key issue is whether AT&T needs to embrace some form of nondiscrimination in order to persuade either Democrats Michael Copps or Jonathan Adelstein, to provide the necessary third vote.

Stifel Nicolaus telecommunications analyst David Kaut said he didn't believe AT&T would accept a nondiscrimination condition: “I think they are dug in on that — they will not give that up, particularly in a merger proceeding where they would be the only company affected.”

The Justice Department approved the merger a few weeks ago without conditions. But Copps and Adelstein, outraged that Justice let such a huge transaction pass unscathed, refused to vote on the deal on Oct. 13.

“I think at some point the odds are they will work out a bipartisan deal to get this done. It looks like [Nov. 3] is in significant doubt,” Kaut said. “I just don't think they are poised to get it done.”

AT&T put forward a number of voluntary conditions, though none of them dealt with one proposed by a few midsize cable companies that would require AT&T to exchange digital phone traffic on fair and efficient terms. Under current law, cable providers of Voice over Internet Protocol calling services do not have the right to interconnect with AT&T, but cable operators have been able to route VoIP traffic through telecommunications carriers that do have interconnection rights.

Among other things, AT&T committed to offer broadband access to every home within its 22-state territory by Dec. 31, 2007. It also agreed to market $10-a-month broadband access to voice-service customers who have not previously signed up for digital subscriber line service. And within a year, customers in the nine former BellSouth states will not be required to purchase circuit-switched voice service in order to subscribe to DSL.

— Ted Hearn

Clearing the Air

The story “AT&T's U-Verse Planned for 15 Cities” on page 13 of this issue incorrectly reports that AT&T disclosed revenue from U-verse and Dish Network TV subscriptions. Data in AT&T's third-quarter financial press release that appeared to be labeled “supplementary operating data, dollars in millions” in fact referred to the number of subscribers in thousands (3,000).

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