Seren, Ameritech Add Cable Franchises


Seren Innovations Inc. and Ameritech New Media have
unveiled their latest moves to acquire cable franchises that put them in competition with
local incumbents.

The video arm of Northern States Power Co., Seren has
applied for a fifth franchise in the San Francisco East Bay area.

And ANM, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ameritech Corp.,
signed franchise deals with communities in the suburbs of Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio.

Seren has filed an application to offer broadband services
in Clayton, Calif., a community of 3,600 households located in Contra Costa County, one of
the most affluent areas in the state.

The company is also awaiting word on similar applications
in nearby Concord, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hills and Danville -- communities where it wants
to offer cable, Internet-access and telephone services in competition with AT&T
Broadband & Internet Services.

"We're hoping to hear something very soon from Concord
and Walnut Creek," Seren spokeswoman Janey Palmer said. "Obviously, we hope it
happens sooner rather than later, because we're really excited about getting into these

If all five franchises are granted, Seren will have a
cluster of some 102,000 households under contract in the area.

But despite Contra Costa's upscale population, Palmer said,
the company expects to attract subscribers from across the socioeconomic spectrum because
of its plans to offer a discounted package of services.

Meanwhile, she added, Seren is looking at another eight
communities in the county, and it expects further announcements in the coming weeks.

"We're taking it one step at a time," she said.
"Right now, it would be accurate to say we're 'looking' at seven other communities,
or 12 in total."

ANM, meanwhile, notched its 30th cable franchise near
Columbus, giving it some 450,000 area homes under contract.

Officials in Reynoldsburg, Ohio -- a community of 32,000
residents and 12,000 households -- recently voted unanimously to grant ANM a 15-year
franchise. That deal makes Reynoldsburg the sixth area community where ANM will compete
against Insight Communications Co.

"With the addition of Canal Winchester last month and,
now, Reynoldsburg, we've won permission to offer more than 500,000 Columbus-area families
a choice in cable television," ANM vice president of public affairs Donna Garofano

ANM is currently up and running in 26 area communities,
including Columbus, MSO spokesman Geoff Potter said. "We're still negotiating with a
number of local communities, but we already have a nice little presence in the Columbus
area," he added.

The Reynoldsburg deal, which calls for construction to
begin by year's end, gives ANM a total of 106 franchises in three states, totaling 1.7
million households.

Elsewhere, ANM signed its 14th franchise in the Cleveland
area last week when it agreed to launch its Americast service in Brecksville, Ohio.

The Brecksville City Council voted unanimously to award ANM
a 15-year deal, which will allow the MSO to serve the affluent community of 5,000
households located 10 miles south of Cleveland.

"This is a very prestigious, influential
community," Potter said. "It's a wealthy, established community that
nevertheless has a significant amount of new development."

The franchise gives ANM a total of 122,000 households under
contract in an area dominated by Cablevision Systems Corp.

In a unique arrangement, the company's deal with the city
calls for ANM to cover one-half of the costs of a new institutional network that
Cablevision agreed to build as part of its recent franchise renewal.

"It's a win for everybody," Potter said.
"The city gets its institutional network, and the two cable companies only have to
pay one-half the cost."

The franchise includes a 36-month construction schedule,
although Potter said ANM hopes to complete the project sometime next year.