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Through The Wire: From Bronco-Mania To Modem-Mania

It looks like U S West wants to embarrass TCI in thenation's cable capital by providing high-speed Internet access to Denvercustomers before the cable giant does. The RBOC says it's getting ready to roll outADSL to Mile High residents. TCI officials wouldn't disclose cable-modem-launch plansfor the city, except to say that it'll probably happen 'this year.' Thatmay only cover the western suburb of Lakewood, however, if the

@Home launch maps with TCI's upgrade schedule. But U SWest's 'MegaBit' gig may not be all that appealing to speed-hungry Websurfers, because it costs $40 per month for a 256-kilobit-per-second line, and thatdoesn't include a $19.95-per-month subscription to U S, the telco'sInternet-service-provider arm. By contrast, @Home's service costs roughly $40 permonth, total.

DBS' riding tide ... How bad have those rainstorms inCalifornia been? Well, Jimmy Schaeffler probably shouldn't have named his recentCarmel Group conference in Los Angeles, 'DBS: The Five Burning Questions'-- let's put it that way. The satellite summit was held at the LAX Sheraton, which hadto stack towels against the front door to keep floodwaters at bay. One panelmoderator, entertainment lawyer Josette Bonte, showed up late for her session because ittook her 20 minutes to cross a street where the water came up to her knees. All thingsconsidered, though, Schaeffler said the conference went well, with 'only three orfour no-shows.'

No one will ever confuse Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) withJay Leno, but the cable-bashing congressman, sponsor of pending legislation to keep cableoperators regulated beyond March 31, 1999, tried out his new comedy act in a letter lastweek to his House colleagues. 'If today's cable rates make your constituents Screamabout rate-hiking Crimes and Misdemeanors perpetrated by the cableindustry, then ending important price controls before an affordable marketplace choiceexists will make them Scream2.'

Priorities, priorities ... At last week's ESPY Awardsat Radio City Music Hall in New York, the press had access to just about any superstarathlete that they desired. But it turned out that the hard-working horde of reportersand photographers really wanted time with supermodel Tyra Banks. After presenting anESPY with ESPN commentator Joe Theismann, Banks never made it upstairs to the press area,to the chagrin of the paparazzi. Theismann, who led the Washington Redskins to a SuperBowl win during a stellar football career, did make an appearance, and he was promptlyasked by at least one reporter what it was like to present an award with Banks.

At last week's American International Toy Fair inManhattan, cable's impact could be seen contributing to spinoff fever intoyland. There were: a Nick at Nite classic TV trivia game from Cardinal Industries; toycars and trucks from TheDukes ofHazard, now being rerun on TNN;figures of race-car drivers like Ted Musgrave on The Family Channel team from Front Row;and a new line of Star Car Collection car collectibles from Mattel Toys' Matchbox,inspired by Happy Days and The Brady Bunch, two staples on Nick at Nite andNick at Nite's TV Land. And, of course, the popularity of various Nickelodeon andCartoon Network shows was translated into toys and games.

By Charles Paikert, from bureau reports.