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Crain News Service

The video joint venture of Bell Atlantic, Nynex, Pacific Telesis and Creative Artists Agency finally got a name last week: Tele-TV.

Principals of the company said they expect to deliver an interactive entertainment, information and communications system to approximately 10 million consumers by 2000.

CAA Chairman Michael Ovitz lauded the planned fiber-optic service as "one of the great future marketplaces" for the creative community.

Though relatively generic, the Tele-TV name is meant to provide underlying marketing consistency to the rapidly evolving system.

"The name involves our four attributes-entertaining, interactive, transactional and communicative-and there is no service yet today that does all that," said Bell Atlantic Chairman Ray Smith. "We believe that we will have an immediate recognition within four or five months where folks will know not only who it is but what it does."

During the next few weeks, Chairman-CEO Howard Stringer and President Sandy Grushow will begin trying to coax TV networks to let Tele-TV retransmit their signals via wireless cable during an early "transitional" phase.

Tele-TV predicts it will be able to reach more than 1 million homes with these services by mid-1996, with another 20 million homes available by late 1997.

The company is also looking to hire marketing executives to head up Tele-TV's ad sales effort.

"We will definitely reach out to advertisers and develop programming with them," Mr. Stringer said.

At the same time, the three telcos will continue to upgrade their fiber-optic systems and work together on a navigator to help make all the technology for interactivity invisible to consumers.

The three last week signed Microsoft Corp. to create an interactive TV operating system.

Tele-TV will begin developing entirely new interactive media services for roughly 1 million consumers by mid-1996. While linear and interactive services will be developed and implemented separately, they'll soon be integrated and delivered via fiber optics as technology allows.

Tele-TV plans to hire an ad agency but isn't actively searching for one yet.M

Jeff Jensen contributed to this story.

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