Viacom Sues TCI for Trying To Monopolize Cable
TV Los Angeles Times LOS ANGELES In a move that could have sweeping consequences for the cable television industry, a bidder for Paramount Communications Inc. Thursday sued giant Tele-Communications Inc. for allegedly trying to monopolize the cable TV business through "bully-boy tactics and strong arming competitors." The suit filed by Viacom Inc., which offered $8.2 billion bid for Paramount, is a direct challenge to the cable supremacy of TCI chief executive John Malone, who is backing a rival bid by the QVC Network. The immediate aim of the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in New York, is to block QVC's unfriendly offer for the entertainment giant. But it also focuses attention on the balance of power in the fast-growing cable TV industry, which is dominated by a handful of players. QVC said in a statement that the lawsuit was "without merit" and "an attempt to deprive Paramount shareholders from considering the best proposal for the future of their company." QVC has offered $9.5 billion to acquire Paramount. Malone, as head of the largest cable company in the United States, is a lightening rod for criticism of the concentration of power in the industry. TCI controls 20 percent of the cable subscribers nationwide and Malone, through his affiliate Liberty Media Corp., has stakes in 25 different cable networks, including 22 percent of the QVC Network. TCI also is a partner with giant Time Warner Inc. in Ted Turner's Turner Broadcasting System.
Rostenkowski Indictment Decision Seen Likely Next Month
The Washington Post
A decision on whether to seek indictments against Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski, D-Ill., is likely next month, now that the Senate has confirmed a new U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, sources familiar with the investigation said. Superior Court Judge Eric H. Holder Jr., confirmed on a voice vote Tuesday to a four-year term, is scheduled to take his oath early next month and, according to the sources, review the House Post Office investigation as one of his first official acts. A federal grand jury has conducted a lengthy investigation of allegations that Rostenkowski embezzled thousands of dollars in House Post Office funds in transactions disguised as official stamp purchases. That grand jury's term expires at the end of October. That deadline gives Holder a few weeks to decide whether to ask the grand jury to indict Rostenkowski. The new prosecutor could instead seek to extend the panel's term a second time. A less likely option would be for Holder to present the politically charged case anew to another 23-member grand jury. "We are very hopeful of getting a meaningful review by the U.S. attorney," said Robert Bennett, Rostenkowski's lawyer. "We believe there are very serious issues regarding the quality of evidence and the credibility of persons making the allegations." The embezzlement allegations come mainly from former House postmaster Robert V. Rota, who resigned under pressure last year after two decades. In a July plea agreement entered in open court, Rota attested to having given Rostenkowski $21,300 since 1985 in exchange for House vouchers for postage or for stamps that had been purchased previously at the House Post Office. Rota pleaded guilty to misdemeanors and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. In his review, Holder must weigh potential challenges to Rota's credibility, sources said. Holder declined Thursday to comment on the case. Rota admitted in court papers that on two previous occasions he denied to investigators any knowledge of stamps-for-cash exchanges. He made the denials to federal prosecutors in 1980 and to House Administration Committee investigators in early 1992.