Tele-TV, Americast discussing merger

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Howard Stringer, chairman and CEO of Tele-TV, said SBC Communications' $17 billion acquisition of Tele-TV partner Pacific Telesis Group should not change Tele-TV's plan to be up and running later this year. "We will need to do some educating. I'm not worried about it," Mr. Stringer said at the Variety/Schroder Wertheim Big Picture Media Conference. However, a very apparent conflict of interest exists in the planned merger: SBC is part of the Americast video joint venture that includes Ameritech, BellSouth, GTE and Disney; Pacific Telesis is part of Tele-TV, a competing video venture that includes Bell Atlantic and Nynex. Many in the industry are speculating about the future roles SBC and Pacific Telesis may play in these ventures. Some predict Pacific Telesis may pull out of Tele-TV and join Americast. Others say SBC may change camps and go to Tele-TV. Executives from neither of those companies were available for comment.

An industry source said there's reason to believe "these two ventures quite possibly may come together. "The joining together of SBC Communications and Pacific Telesis may accelerate and enhance the chance of the two ventures coming together," he said. Representatives from the two ventures have held negotiations as recent as last week and are said to be going fairly well.

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