TCI BUYS EQUITY STAKE IN CABLE TV REP NCC

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In a move to make local cable buying more agency-friendly, Tele-Communications Inc.'s TCI Media Services unit has taken an equity stake in cable rep National Cable Communications.

With the deal, TCI becomes an equal partner with owners Time Warner Cable, Comcast Cable Communications, MediaOne and Chancellor Media's Katz Media Group. The move was expected (AA, July 13).

82% OF CABLE HOMES

Before the deal, NCC represented 43 million cable households; it now will rep 51 million, or 82% of the cable homes receiving local ads.

By early 1999, NCC will rep 97 of the top 100 markets, executives said.

NCC will expand in Dallas, Houston, Orlando, St. Louis and Tampa, Fla., said John Sawhill, president-CEO.

"NCC has been very aggressive in making local cable attractive to buy," said Laura Silton, senior VP-director of local broadcast at McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York.

She said NCC also is working hard to make its back-office systems more agency-friendly.

"One of the complaints we hear about local cable is the problem of verifying the large number of spots bought," said Larry Zipin, corporate VP-ad sales for Time Warner Cable. "NCC has taken a leadership position with its automated [electronic data interchange] plan."

COMPETITOR'S RECOURSE

The original deal on the table called for Cable Networks Inc., the nation's second-largest cable rep, to rep only regional cable news channels and get out of the cable system rep business.

CNI is a division of Cablevision System Corp.'s Rainbow Advertising Sales Corp., which announced the formation of a new unit, Regional News Representation, to be managed by CNI.

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