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Times Mirror Swaps Several Cable Systems

October 06, 1987|From a Times Staff Writer

Times Mirror Co. will swap its Phoenix and other Arizona cable television systems for a number of cable systems across the country under an agreement in principle announced Monday with Tele-Communications Inc. and United Artists Communications.

On Sept. 17, Times Mirror said its cable television subsidiary had held preliminary discussions about such a transaction.

The Los Angeles-based media company, which owns the Los Angeles Times, is acquiring cable systems in South Lake Tahoe, Calif.; Reno and Carson City, Nev.; Decatur, Ill.; Zanesville, Ohio; Brookhaven, N.Y., and Taunton and North Attleboro, Mass., in the trade.

Tele-Communications and United Artists Communications, both of Denver, will form a partnership to own and operate the Arizona systems, which also include subscribers in Tempe, Chandler, Mesa, Paradise Valley, Fountain Hills, Nogales, Bullhead City, Casa Grande and Lake Havasu.

The parties said the Arizona systems are expected to serve more than 185,000 subscribers by year-end. Times Mirror will receive about the same number of subscribers in the systems that it is acquiring.

Separately, Times Mirror also agreed to buy a cable system in Rock Island, Ill., from Tele-Communications. The purchase price was not disclosed.

The Phoenix cable system was formed in 1985 by the combination of competing systems owned by Times Mirror and Storer Communications.

Times Mirror obtained the Storer unit as part of a swap of cable systems in a number of cities. Storer also received an undisclosed amount of money in that transaction.

A Times Mirror spokesman said Monday that the latest deal fits the company's strategy of concentrating its cable systems away from large metropolitan areas in "classic or traditional" markets where subscribers need cable for access to "high quality" television programming.

A United Artists spokesman said the firm is "excited about the possibility of doing business in Phoenix" because of "untapped potential . . . for a company that is not necessarily earnings driven."

Growth potential in the Arizona areas also was cited by a Tele-Communications spokesman as being "good for both our company and United Artists." Tele-Communications owns 65% of United Artists Communications.

Completion of the transactions, expected in 1988, is subject to execution of definitive agreements and to governmental approvals.

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