Multimedia Sets Strategy for Converging Communications

Article excerpt

A $150 MILLION upgrade of Multimedia Inc.'s cable systems during the next five years highlights the Greenville, S.C., company's strategy to "strengthen its competitive position, enhance the value of its assets and take advantage of opportunities" resulting from successes in newspaper publishing, broadcasting, entertainment programming and cable television.

The company will spend approximately $90 million during the next two years to upgrade coaxial cable to fiberoptic cable, increasing capacity from 40 to as many as 110 channels. The balance of the investment will go into digital compression and installation of interactive converter boxes in the 50% of subscribing households expected to want the enhanced service.

Multimedia chairman, president and CEO Walter Bartlett noted that his company recently signed an agreement to acquire 50,000 cable subscribers in areas adjacent to Wichita, fulfilling the "goal of obtaining cable access to virtually every household" in the metropolitan statistical area.

The arrangement, which conforms to Multimedia's geographic concentration of cable operations, involves a trade to Tele-Communications Inc. of about 39,000 Illinois and Oklahoma cable-TV subscribers and an undisclosed cash payment to TCI.

Multimedia Cablevision in Wichita, through a partnership with a subsidiary of Adelphia Cable Communications, soon will begin alternate access to long-distance networks for the area's commercial customers, using a fiberoptic loop around the city that features full redundancy. …