Roberts Fears Impact of New Cable Regs


Washington -- Comcast Corp. president Brian Roberts said Monday that a new
round of cable regulation would deal a serious blow to beaten-down cable stocks
in the wake of the Adelphia Communications Corp. implosion.

'At a time like this, even the hint of new regulation can push an
already-nervous financial community to the brink,' Roberts said in a speech here
to the Federal Communications Bar Association.

A Comcast official said Roberts was not referring to program-access rules in
his description of 'a change in the regulatory climate.' On Thursday, the
Federal Communications Commission is expected to extend those rules for a few
more years.

The Comcast official said Roberts was referring, for example, to government
mandates that cable operators carry unaffiliated Internet-service providers.

Roberts said cable survived the telecommunications meltdown based on sound
business models backed by prudent capital investment.

'But,' he added, 'our ability to keep bringing new services and competition
to the market would suffer if Washington transmits negative messages to Wall
Street. That's why I ask only one thing of Washington today: Don't change

While cable has avoided a Wall Street rout, Roberts said the past few months
have been painful, adding that cable stocks have lost about 30 percent of their
value since March, when Adelphia's problems came to light

'According to the stock market, cable is in trouble and new investment should
slow. And while these bad times on Wall Street have rattled us, they haven't
undercut our faith in the future,' Roberts said.

He added that Comcast's merger with AT&T Broadband remains on track for
closing in the fourth quarter.