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Cox Takes Time to Cover a Tragedy

3/11/2001 7:00 PM Eastern

It will be a long time before Philip White forgets Feb. 28, 2001. After all, it's not every day a hillside engulfs your service truck. "I thought, 'OK, I'm gone.' Then I thought of my kids. I was pretty scared," said the Olympia, Wash.-based AT&T Broadband service technician. He was driving on Highway 101 when an earthquake hit the Seattle area. The hill stopped before it did any real damage (except to his psyche). And one cable customer wins the good guy award: He saw the incident, drove over with a tow rope and pulled White's rig to safety. After White checked on the safety of his fiancée and kids, he went back to work, he said. AT&T regional spokesman Steve Kipp said employees were amazed at how well they all came through the shaker-even a service tech in Everett who surfed out the tremor high in the bucket of his truck.
One older subscriber, who had just entered the company's cable store in Bellingham when the quake hit, apologized to employees there as she walked unsteadily to the counter. "I got new glasses and the prescription's not right. Everything seems shaky," said Kipp, quoting the befuddled customer.

. Minutes after last week's tragic shooting at Santana High School in Santee, Calif., Cox Newschannel 15-a partnership between the MSO and KGTV, San Diego's ABC affiliate-arrived on the scene for an hour-long live telecast. The network informed parents on the whereabouts of their children and covered the aftermath of the shooting by 15-year-old freshman Charles Andrew "Andy" Williams. "Time we got," said Dan Novak, vice president of programming and communications. "This is an important local story." Ironically, the cable system had taped an anti-drunken driving special at the school, filled with images of mourning teens. That show has been removed from rotation for the near term. Cox Cable San Diego, in partnership with Courtroom Television Network, has produced programs in the past that demonstrate conflict mediation between teens. The system will consider creating fresh content that examines juvenile violence, Novak said.

. If visitors to the historic battlefield at Gettysburg, Pa., find its monuments restored to a more pristine posture in the future, they can thank Adelphia Communications Corp. Native son Frank Polito, regional director of government and community affairs for western Pennsylvania, has been working closely with state Rep. Harry Readshaw to raise funds to restore 146 Civil War monuments there. "It's nice to get the cable industry to collaborate on a nonpartisan issue," he said. Adelphia has co-sponsored 5K runs in Gettysburg
to help raise cash; the next race is scheduled for April. So far, the restoration drive has raised $187,000 and hopes to net another $375,000 for a maintenance endowment-not bad for a guy who's never been to Gettysburg himself. But Polito said he's been invited to the monument in April and may avail himself of a guided tour, on horseback. Those wishing to support the effort can find more information at www.fourscore.com.

. Reed Hundt hated deregulation and Bill Kennard detested the media (except when it was convenient to leak a big story about himself to The New York Times, USA Today
or The Wall Street Journal). So what sticks in the craw of new Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell? The answer: fish. According to informed sources not employed at the FCC, Powell is allergic to seafood, though an FCC spokesman wouldn't confirm that affliction. The United States Telecom Association was all set to serve up salmon or some other sea catch at a Washington, D.C. luncheon last week held in Powell's honor. But the menu was derailed when Powell's office called in with the bad medical news. The Mayflower Hotel gathering instead grazed on breast of chicken over a hot bed of rice and steamed vegetables. When it was Powell's turn to speak, he complained that the meal was just "mediocre." After their jaws dropped, shocked USTA staff members looked at each other, as if to say: "OK, pal, next time it's fish."

. Like the National Cable Television Association (which is dropping Television and picking up & Telecommunications), the lobbying arm of the local-telephone industry has also undergone a name change, from United States Telephone Association to the United States Telecom Association. Making light of all of this last week, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) said he could remember when USTA stood for the United States Telegraph Association.
(How about United States Tennis Association?) But Dingell-the House's most senior member, starting his 24th term in office-reminded the USTA audience that he was not as ancient as 98-year-old Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), who can recall a time when the "T" in the USTA stood for "tom-tom."

. Executives accustomed to visiting New York on the third Wednesday in September to attend the annual Walter Kaitz Foundation dinner will have to change their travel schedules this year. In deference to the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, the dinner will be moved from the third Wednesday of the month to the second Thursday, Sept. 13. Fans of the New York Hilton Hotel don't have to worry: The event will still be held at the facility.

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