TCI Hoping for Peace in Ad-Sales War

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Top cable-ad executives cautioned against underestimatingrep firm Cable Networks Inc., even after it lost Time Warner Cable's business in theNew York market.

The battle over the New York Interconnect between TimeWarner and Rainbow Advertising Sales Corp. (RASCO), which owns CNI, is all the rage incable-ad circles these days, but Jerry Machovina, senior vice president of ad sales atTele-Communications Inc.'s TCI Media Services, said recently, "I thinkthat's all going to be resolved."

Machovina -- and most other cable-ad executives -- refusedto discuss the situation. Machovina did say that talks are under way that should lead tonot only resolving the New York Interconnect problem, but the representation aspects, aswell, although he would not elaborate.

Time Warner replaced CNI with rival rep firm National CableCommunications.

RASCO officials could not be reached for comment at presstime, and a Time Warner spokesman said he would not react to each week's speculation,although he reiterated the MSO's willingness to talk.

Some ad-agency buyers that buy time on the interconnectsaid they had been told that the two parties met in April to discuss the issues thatdivided them, although they did not know how productive those sessions were.

Another Time Warner official two weeks ago dismissedspeculation that CNI was struggling due to Time Warner's rep change in New York.Various other cable executives declined to discuss that subject, but, off the record,several dismissed rumors about CNI being in trouble.

There have been persistent rumors in recent months --indeed, in recent years -- that the two spot-cable rep firms, NCC and CNI, were eitherbeing eyed for acquisition by other companies, or that they would join forces. Somereliable industry sources -- both in cable and on Wall Street -- said top TCI andCablevision Systems Corp. (RASCO's parent company) executives have raised anew thepossibility in recent months of merging NCC and CNI.

The potential merger was another topic that provoked aspate of no comments. But publicly, spokesmen for those companies have steadfastly shotdown each round of speculation in the past.