Through The Wire: Where Does a 5M-Sub MSO Sleep?


The question had to be asked, and it was. Now that AdelphiaCommunications Corp. will be moving up to nearly 5 million subscribers, after snapping upFrontierVision and Century Communications Corp., is any thought being given to moving itsheadquarters to "a real city" from Coudersport, Pa.? Executive vice presidentTim Rigas sidestepped that analyst query easily at a conference last Thursday. Coudersport,he replied, "isn't even a fake city: It's just a little village."And what about the money-losing, one-screen movie theater there that Adelphia chairmanJohn Rigas bought in the 1940s and has famously never sold? "That's going tostay independent," his son Tim explained, even though, he said, "At Home hastalked about it."

Like us, most Wire readers have probably been holding offon that high-definition television-set purchase, awaiting advice on the subject from ConsumerReports magazine. Well, the wait is over. CR's March issue deems the$7,000 Panasonic HDTV model "a fine set," but it gives the overall nod toSony's $8,000 offering, which, the magazine said, generated "stunning"pictures. Of course, the reviewers note that conventional TVs, for far less money, arestill a safe and sensible option, and they will work for at least seven more years. But bewary of spending thousands of dollars on a projection TV that the HDTV sets will renderobsolete.

FCC chairman William Kennard receives a lot of niftytrinkets, but the one that he got last week from Washington, D.C.-based telecom-policyanalyst Scott Cleland must rank near the top. In recognition of the FCC's recentSupreme Court victory that gave the agency power to regulate intrastate phone competition,Cleland stood up at a Willard Hotel luncheon packed with Wall Street suits and policywonks and handed Kennard a small plaque with the inscription, "JurisdictionalViagra." After mentioning that Cleland is a prominent Republican, Kennard broughtdown the house by asking: "What is it with Republicans and Viagra? Scott Clelandand Bob Dole. I thought it was some kind of an obsession or some kind of problem."

Not to rip other publications, but shouldn'toff-the-record comments at least be juicy? A recent press release for a $175 WallStreet-related cable-industry report touts analysts and industry experts giving rips andback-pats under the cover of anonymity. The examples quoted in the release: TCA Cable is"just a really well-managed company," and John Malone has "an incrediblevision of the future." But "the jury is out" on whether another unnamedcable CEO's company can "come through with the kind of growth that all of thisis supposed to create for the industry." Really going out on a limb there, guys.

Wire castigator Charles Paikert of Cablevision magazineaccidentally opened some mail that was forwarded to him from the magazine's formeraddress, which was actually intended for another Charles (Dolan) at another Cablevision(Systems Corp.). So in the unlikely event that chairman Dolan is wondering where his 1999Charter Yacht brochure was mislaid, now he knows whom to call.

By Kent Gibbons, from bureau reports.