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. . . . . . . . . . . . News, notes and ideas for Williamstown and the Greylock region

 

POSTED: Saturday, April 23, 2004, 9:07 p.m.

By Bill Densmore

(densmore@newshare.com)

UPDATED (04-23-04): North Adams Mayor John Barrett says cities and towns which are part of the Comcast/Time-Warner/Adelphia merger and spinoff have 120 days to give their approval locally. Also, and to clarify, Adelphia's spokeswoman said on Thursday that she understood it was all of the North Berkshire Adelphia franchise (including Adams and North Adams) which would go to Time-Warner, even though their corporate PR documents call it the "Williamstown" system. Finally, Consumers Union's website www.hearusnow.org has an excellent piece on the dangers of cable consolidation.

EARLIER (04-21-04): Here's local scoop from this morning's announcement of a $17.6 billion merger/breakup among cable giants -- subscribers to Adelphia Cable in northern Berkshire County will become Time-Warner customers in a year or so. This change means the two cities in Berkshire County will be served by a single cable company. Adelphia Communications spokeswoman Erica Stull, in Greenwood, Colo., confirmed the swap today in a phone conversation with GreylockNews.COM. Adelphia Communications, the nation's fifth-largest cable company, which has been trying to emerge from bankruptcy-court proceedings, said today it had agreed to be sold in a complex deal involving the Nos. 1 and 2 cable giants -- Time-Warner and Comcast. The deal is not supposed to close for nine to 12 months. But when it is done, it creates the prospect that a unified television signal -- for county news or advertising -- could reach the vast bulk of Berkshire County homes. This will create a competitive headache for the region's dominant media company -- MediaNews Group Inc., parent of The Berkshire Eagle, the North Adams Transcript and The Advocate.  Until now, Berkshire County has been a relatively unserved market by television advertising. MediaNews had been pushing for a waiver of FCC regulations so that it could purchase the one available over-the-air TV frequency assigned to the region. Today's announcements did not include the detail of which systems were getting swapped. But the check with Stull confirmed that north county will go to Time Warner and the Adelphia system in Lee will apparently join the rest of Massachusetts-based Adelphia franchises in going to Comcast. There are consumer groups seeking to block the deal. Also not clear yet is whether local communities which license cable services on the group get to block the transfers locally.

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