Crossed Wires

A proposed deal may be the opening salvo in a major cable TV battle

THE WIRE WAR IS HEATING UP. AS THE PACE OF DEregulation quickens and emerging new technologies blur the boundaries separating their markets, the telephone and cable-television industries are set on a collision course. The confrontation moved another step closer when Southwestern Bell, based in St. Louis, Missouri, agreed to acquire two cable-TV systems in the Washington, D.C., area from Hauser Communications for $650 million. If approved, the deal will mark the first time any of the seven so-called Baby Bells owns a cable-TV franchise. Until now, the former Bell System companies have only formed joint ventures with cable operators.

The Southwestern...

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