Reach Out and Buy Someone

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NEW YORK CITY: The fallout from the telecom reform bill began Tuesday, as Baby Bell U.S. West took advantage of newly relaxed regulations to buy Continental Cablevision, the nation's third largest cable TV system. The $10.8 billion deal gives U.S. West access to nearly a third of cable homes in the U.S. The deal also may serve as a salve to U.S. West, a Time Warner shareholder that is suing to block Time Warner's proposed acquisition of Turner Broadcasting. Time Warner Chairman gave the deal his blessing in statement: "The strategies of U. S. West Media Group's Atlanta cable systems, those of Continental Cablevision and Time Warner Cable are virtually identical, thus creating the potential for further affiliating these well-positioned systems in the future," Time Warner Chairman Gerald M. Levin said in a statement. "This is a defining day for the U S West Media Group," company CEO Chuck Lillis said. He announced that Continental CEO Amos Hostetter would stay on to oversee all of U.S. West's cable properties.