The Federal Trade Commission has given final approval to a consent agreement with Tele-Communications, Inc. (TCI), settling charges that TCI's $1 billion-plus acquisition of TeleCable Corporation would eliminate competition for cable television service in Columbus, Georgia. The Commission's action makes the consent order provisions binding on the respondent.
TCI is based in Englewood, Colorado, and TeleCable was based in Norfolk, Virginia. Prior to the merger, they were the leading cable TV operators in Columbus.
Under the final order, TCI was allowed to acquire TeleCable but, in order to restore competition, must divest either its own Columbus cable TV assets, or those of TeleCable, within 12 months. TCI must operate the TeleCable assets independently of its own cable TV business, and keep the assets marketable and viable, pending divestiture. If the divestiture is not completed on time, the order permits the FTC to appoint a trustee to complete a sale of one of the systems.
In addition, the order requires TCI, for 10 years, to obtain FTC approval before acquiring any cable TV system in the Columbus, Georgia, area.
Finally, the order contains various reporting provisions designed to assist the FTC in monitoring TCI's compliance.
The consent agreement was announced for a public-comment period on Jan. 26. The Commission vote to issue it in final form occurred on May 8, and was 5-0.
NOTE: A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute admission of a law violation. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions by the respon- dents. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $10,000.
A news release summarizing the complaint and consent agree- ment in more detail was issued at the time the Commission accepted the consent agreement for public comment. Copies of that release and of the complaint and final order are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
(FTC File No. 941 0132)
(Docket No. C-3575)