CABLE GIANT TCI TAKES ON DIRECT B'CAST SATELLITE TV: CAMPAIGN DISCUSSES 'HIDDEN COSTS'

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Tele-Communications Inc., the nation's largest cable TV multiple system operator, is going head-to-head with direct broadcast satellite services in a new campaign breaking this week.

The ads, to run on TCI's systems covering 15 million homes nationwide, illustrate how cable companies are trying to fend off direct broadcast satellite pro-viders, which now have about 6 million subscribers to cable's estimated 65 million.

The effort, from Jordan, McGrath, Case & Taylor, New York, highlights so-called hidden costs associated with direct broadcast. One spot gives a list of direct broadcast expenses, saying, "When you add it all up, maybe you're better off right where you are . . . with TCI cable."

The campaign comes as direct broadcast providers such as DirecTV and Primestar increasingly are moving into cable's territory, often promoting their options as more expansive than cable.

In March, Primestar launched a $45 million print and TV campaign promoting its upgraded channel options, via Adler Boschetto Peebles & Partners, New York.

OTHER CABLE EFFORTS

Other cable operators are targeting the competition in their advertising and promotion efforts.

"There is a need to become more competitive with other alternatives to cable television," said Rick Bodge, senior VP-account exec at Jordan McGrath.

"This is a great opportunity to inform [consumers] about the realities of getting satellite TV," said Michael Vines, senior VP-creative director and copywriter.

The spots will air on TCI outlets only; Mr. Bodge called that "a matter of economics."

"We're targeting specific cable customers," he said. "There's a good chance we'll reach them better in the environment in which they watch TV anyway."

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