AT&T HEADS INTO ORBIT WITH DIRECTV SERVICE

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AT&T Corp. is investing about $140 million in GM Hughes Electronics DirecTV, a home satellite broadcast service that currently boasts about 1.25 million subscribers. And by summer, the telecommunications giant will flex its giant marketing muscle when it shops DirecTV to its 90 million customers.

AT&T plans to tap its existing marketing channels-print, radio, broadcast, cable, outdoor, online, telemarketing and direct mail-to reach potential new customers for the service.

"We're creating one point of contact to offer bundled services, including long distance, DirecTV, cellular, paging and eventually local," said Dan Clark, VP-general manager of marketing and sales for AT&T's consumer and small business division.

Although marketing details and budgets have yet to be finalized, AT&T plans to use FCB/Leber Katz Partners, New York, one of its core agencies, to spearhead the consumer advertising effort.

AT&T ad taglines such as "Your true choice" and "All within your reach" will most likely be used to brand any new DirecTv campaign or marketing effort, said Mr. Clark. He added that AT&T would invest "the usual amount" it spends in launching major services-usually somewhere between $20 million and $40 million.

DirecTV now uses Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich., for its ads. The service spent $13.8 million on media support in 1994, according to Competitive Media Reporting. How the two advertising styles, campaigns and efforts will come together has yet to be decided.

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission auctioned licenses to another high-power satellite position. MCI Communications Corp., together with its strategic partner News Corp., won the license with a $682.5 million bid in the 18th round.

The MCI/News Corp. service, just now getting the green light, is far behind other content-offering ventures, including AT&T/DirecTV and the Baby Bell teams-Americast (Ameritech Corp., GTE Corp., BellSouth and SBC) and Tele-TV (Bell Atlantic Corp., Nynex Corp. and Pacific Telesis Group).

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