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Qwest Considers Offering TV Service

Qwest Considers Offering TV Service

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DENVER (AP) -- Telephone and high-speed Internet provider Qwest is exploring the possibility of offering television programming as part of a package of services.

Qwest Communications International chief executive Richard Notebaert told The Denver Post in Wednesday's editions that such an offering could help Qwest compete with the cable industry and bolster revenue. The service package would be included on one bill.

Analysts speculate Qwest might team with either of the two U.S. satellite-television providers: Littleton-based EchoStar Communications, which operates under the Dish Network brand, or Hughes Electronics' DirecTV.

Neither Notebaert nor a company spokeswoman would comment on any possible negotiations.

"Video is an important part of the bundle," Qwest spokeswoman Sylvia McLachlan said Wednesday. "We're exploring a wide variety of options."

Denver-based Qwest offers local and long-distance phone service and high-speed Internet service. Its wireless-phone coverage is limited and its video-over-phone-lines experiment proved too expensive to expand.

EchoStar spokesman Marc Lumpkin would not comment Wednesday.

DirecTV spokesman Robert Mercer told The Post that Qwest is among many companies with which DirecTV has discussed resale partnerships. He declined to comment further.

EchoStar already has marketing deals with high-speed Internet access providers SBC Communications Inc. and Earthlink to help it compete against cable providers that can bundle Internet and television offerings.

If Qwest makes a pact with a satellite company, analysts believe it might offer television service at a discount. In turn, the satellite companies, which so far lack a true high-speed Internet service, could offer Qwest's digital subscriber-line service.

"If they feel they need a video offering, I think it has to be satellite," said Tom Friedberg, an analyst with Janco Partners in Denver. "But given the personalities involved, it's not clear to me who would be the ideal partner."

Qwest shares closed up 54 cents Wednesday at $4.19 on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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