Comcast Gets More Time on SMATVs

Comcast Corp. received additional time Wednesday from the Federal
Communications Commission to clean up some lingering cross-ownership conflicts
stemming from its recent merger with AT&T Broadband.

In a staff decision, the FCC gave Comcast -- the country's largest cable
operator, with 22 million subscribers -- until March 3 to divest five
satellite-master-antenna-television (SMATV) systems or integrate them into the
local franchise agreements.

Comcast had 60 days from the close of the merger to comply with FCC rules.
But the company said it ran into some problems with five SMATV systems and
needed an additional 45 days.

The SMATV systems involved -- one in Hartford, Conn., and four in Indiana --
serve 856 subscribers in all.

The FCC prohibits a cable company from operating a SMATV within its franchise
footprint "separate and apart" from its franchised cable-service offering.

A cable operator in conflict with the rule must divest the SMATV or integrate
into the broader franchise agreement, which includes franchise-fee, must-carry,
and public-access commitments.

In Hartford, Comcast plans to discontinue the SMATV service and convert the
one building over to the cable system. In Indiana, the MSO intends to sell the
SMATVs to Insight Communications Co. Inc.