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TIGHT REGULATION WOULD SLOW CABLE TELEVISION TECHNOLOGY EXPANSION

 TIGHT REGULATION WOULD SLOW CABLE TELEVISION TECHNOLOGY EXPANSION
 ATLANTA, March 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Cable television technology has become so sophisticated that customers in the near future will be able to receive advertising specifically targeted to their homes or, instead of going to a video rental store, call up motion pictures from a remote video "juke box" for private screenings in their homes.
 But the top business and technology executives of the nation's sixth-largest cable company warned that such advances will be possible only in a regulatory environment that balances consumer protection concerns with the industry's need for expansion capital.
 James O. Robbins, president of Cox Cable, a division of Cox Enterprises, Inc., and Alex B. Best, senior vice president for engineering for Cox Cable, made their remarks here Tuesday (March 17) during a regular monthly program sponsored by the Business & Technology Alliance (B&TA), an organization of about 500 individual and corporate members interested in the development of a technology infrastructure in Georgia.
 Alan S. Neely, president of B&TA and managing director of the Atlanta office of Korn/Ferry International, the executive recruitment organization, said the program Tuesday was part of the organization's year-long focus on the telecommunications industry, which includes cable television interests.
 Neely said B&TA plans to continue its focus on the telecommunications industry by inviting representatives of "the pure telecommunications side" of


the industry, which includes BellSouth and other major corporations based in Atlanta, to present their views at a subsequent meeting.
 "This is a major upcoming confrontation," Neely said, explaining the importance of the programs. "It's important to our members because the telecommunications industry is such a major presence in the Atlanta area that, no matter what happens, it will have an impact on all of us."
 Neely said the importance of the programs is underscored "by the quality of the people making the presentations, all of whom are major players in the telecommunications industry."
 Robbins, whom Neely recruited to Cox Cable seven years ago, is also the current chairman of the National Cable Television Association. And Best, prior to joining Cox Cable, was the first engineer in the cable television division of Scientific-Atlanta, a company that helped define the industry with its products and innovative technologies. Both Robbins and Best noted the attempts in Congress to impose tighter regulations on the "unregulated" cable television industry and deregulation of the telephone industry. The two industry segments already are at loggerheads as cable television uses its advanced technology to provide communications services and telephone companies are beginning to offer technology-based information services to customers.
 Robbins said he sees a "blurring" of the boundary lines in the regulation of the cable television and telephone industries and suggested that tighter regulation of cable with uncontrolled growth by the recently unregulated telephone service providers "could kill the industry."
 Attempts to place more stringent controls on the cable television industry are the result of some operators' using deregulation, granted by legislation enacted in 1984, to increase profits through unwarranted price increases for their customers, Robbins said.
 "Washington has to rein in the abusers," he added, "without killing all of the investment incentives" in the industry.
 Best said a good example of the kinds of technology investments the cable television industry must make in the next few years is fiber optic cable -- media that will position the industry to deliver such advances as videos on demand, scores of programming channels and other advances.
 "Today Cox is prepared to spend $50 million for fiber optics over the next five years," Best said. "Two years ago, we didn't have anything budgeted for fiber optics."
 Cox Cable is the sixth-largest cable operator in the country. Its 24 systems in 18 states serves about 1.7 million customers.
 Robbins predicted that much of the growth potential for his industry will come from potential customers who "for one reason or another" are not cable television customers. Today only six in 10 homes in areas served by cable are customers. Yet, the impetus for future growth, he said, will be the same force that always has driven the industry: programming. Technology, he added, will improve the programming offerings.
 "The vision we have of the future springs out of our technological platform," Robbins said. He said there are several opportunities for improved offerings:
 -- Pay-per-view, already a feature with a few cable systems, enables customers to pre-arrange, usually with a telephone call, to see a special event or movie for a fee. Fiber optic cable, Best said, will mean cable customers could have a choice at any time of 50 or more pay-per-view channels in addition to normal cable programming. Such a service already is operational with at least one operator in New York state.
 -- Interactive services. Similar to offerings accessed by personal computers through services like Prodigy, such a system already is operational through cable television hookups in Montreal.
 -- High-definition TV. The emerging standard for greatly improved quality of video should begin making inroads in the United States later this decade.
 -- Targeted Advertising and Niche Programming. While technology will enable advertisers to deliver customized commercial messages to specific households that have been identified in demographic services, it also provides opportunities for specialized programming.
 -- Personal Communications Services. As an alternative to standard telephones, cable television technology also could provide some alternative communications services to customers. Cox, in fact, recently demonstrated such a service in a coast-to-coast telephone call from Cox Enterprises Chairman James C. Kennedy, calling from San Diego, to Al Sikes, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C.
 Particularly in the latter category, cable television operators would be competing directly with traditional telephone service providers such as BellSouth and AT&T, said Best.
 "I don't know whether we will be allowed (by the FCC) to compete, but in five to seven years, this could be a real business," Best said. "But the infrastructure will be in place (to compete)."
 -0- 3/17/92 R
 /CONTACT: William Marks of Digital Communications Associates, 404-442-4520 (office), 404-987-9565 (after hours), or 404-690-6665 (pager)/ CO: Cox Cable; Business & Technology Alliance; Cox Enterprises, Inc. ST: Georgia IN: TLS SU:


BN-TG -- AT010R -- 8979 03/17/92 18:00 EST
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Date:Mar 17, 1992
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