Cable groups join forces for publicity

MARY FAGAN

Industrial Correspondent

The cable television industry has agreed a pounds 30m nationwide marketing campaign to increase public awareness of cable services and help it fight BT in local telephone services.

The industry has accepted that it needs to improve its image and that the companies must join forces to get their collective message across. It is expected that J Walter Thompson will be signed up to mastermind the two-year campaign.

It is not yet clear how the companies will split the cost, but it is likely to be on the basis of how many homes each company "owns" in its franchise area, or on how many they manage on their own behalf or for other companies. The situation is complicated because many franchises are owned by a number of different cable firms.

Nynex and Telewest, two of the largest companies, are thought to be the driving force behind the co-operation. Some critics of the plan say it will detract from the individuality of the companies and could harm their local appeal. But industry sources say it is needed if the companies are to fight BT, which is working vigorously at winning back customers who have gone over to cable telephony.

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