Mixed signals on cable's financial fixes


Just because cable operators are laying out new financial-reporting
standards, don't expect them to agree on everything.

Looking to restore investor confidence in Adelphia Communications Corp.-battered stocks,
major operators collaborated on guidelines for informing investors about things
like what portion of capital spending is going toward system rebuilds and what
is being spent on equipment for digital or high-speed-data customers that
immediately generates new revenue.

But in a Wednesday conference call among cable CEOs and staffers to prep for
Monday's standards unveiling, it became clear that there are significant
disagreements, like how to count cable customers in homes versys those in apartment
buildings getting bulk discounts.

An executive at one MSO expressed surprise that the announcement had been scheduled for
a regular meeting of New York media analysts. "Don't take it out of the oven, it
ain't done yet," the executive said.

Michael Willner, chairman of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association
and CEO of Insight Communications Co. Inc., disagreed, saying: "There's substantial
agreement among all the companies."