Through The Wire: Progress for @Home, But Kinks Remain

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Are @Home Network and its MSO partners on the same page?Several weeks ago, @Home faced an uprising among its Connecticut users when a SprintNettransport ring that it needed to offset bulging capacity on its network was deliveredlate. Once @Home installed the ring Jan. 15, many subs reported that things perked upnoticeably. But others still complained that their surfing speeds haven't come close tothe "up to 100 times faster" than 28.8-kbps modems that @Home and MSOs promisein their ads. A Wire correspondent, who still suffers from erratic service, reported thata Cablevision Systems level-1 tech told him that @Home still had some "routerproblems" in southwest Connecticut. Is this true, @Home? We're not sure, since@Home never called back with an answer. The good news: A Cablevision service rep provideda six-week refund due to the subpar service.

The boxing bug seems to have bitten Turner NetworkTelevision. After registering a surprising 2.1 rating for its September boxing show, thenetwork is gearing up for a second event Feb. 17. Flashy WBC junior lightweightchampion Floyd Mayweather will headlinethe card. Given the renewed interest inthe "sweet science" and the popularity of Mayweather, the show could easily topSeptember's rating. No word yet on whether boxing will become a major sports staple of theTNT sports library, behind NBA basketball and pro wrestling.

The ongoing impeachment trial of President Clinton hascaused a crush of senators and media types to compete for the chance to sit in the boothnext to Court TV chief anchor and managing editor Fred Graham. But according to oneinsider at Court TV, once they get there, they feel like they've gotten a little more thanthey bargained for. Graham — who covered Washington as a legal writer for The NewYork Times and for CBS News — was characterized as the "dean of impeachmentreporters" by one inside source.

"Senators and press all look to be on-air with Fred," the source said, "butonce they get on, they joke that it's tough to go up with Graham because he asks toughlegal questions. " Maybe those politicos — eager to swat at softballquestions lobbed by other less-venerable reporters — should have checked out hisresume beforehand. According to a Court TV bio, Graham is also an attorney.

If you wanted to reach many cable-sports executives lastweek, you had to fly to Florida. Many top Fox Sports and regional-sports-networkexecutives were "conducting business" in southern Florida. Executives fromthe Rainbow-owned regional-sports networks, in particular, were "unreachable"due to a major executive meeting held in the Sunshine State. The wire thinks that it'svery ironic that the Super Bowl was held in Miami yesterday (Jan. 31), but we won't drawany conclusions.

Talk about anonymous gift-givers: Cable Positive recentlyreceived a $50,000 check for its annual April fund-raising dinner from a contributor whodid not want his or her name revealed. The check was even sent in a way that made itimpossible to trace. The only hint about the provider's identity was a note saying that itwas from a major network executive. Sources at Cable Positive said they will gladly acceptthe check and thank the unnamed executive; he/she is the first underwriter for the dinner.

Before Paula Zahn signed off Jan. 23 to conclude her stintas CBS' weekend-news anchor, she offered "a personal note" to her viewers. Afterlavishing praise on her CBS colleagues, she said she was leaving to anchor the news for"a cable network."

Although she didn't name it in her farewell, that unidentified network was well publicizedas Fox News Channel.


By R. Thomas Umstead, from bureau reports.

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