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Friday, 12 May, 2000, 20:53 GMT 21:53 UK
Time Warner 'regrets' Disney row
ABC website
Disney's ABC channel ground to a halt in 3.5m households
US media firm Time Warner has sent a letter to US Congress members expressing "regret" about its recent dispute with rival Disney.

The row over cable fees resulted last week in the transmission of Disney's ABC channel being halted on Time Warner cable systems in 11 US cities.

The move was criticised by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Time Warner is in the middle of the public-comment period required by that government agency on its proposed merger with America Online which is subject to approval by the FCC.

In the letter, Time Warner's senior vice president for global policy Timothy Boggs said: "Time Warner deeply regrets the way our commercial dispute with Disney unfolded last week.

"There was a clear and honest disagreement between the companies, but we at Time Warner are sorry we let it get to a point where consumers were put in the middle," the letter said.

"We don't intend to let it happen again. This was a matter that should have been settled between the companies."

The letter included a copy of a Time Warner advertisement that tried to make up for the inconvenience to its customers by offering a credit for two days of basic cable service and one month of a pay channel to which they do not already subscribe.

The apologetic letter was included with Time Warner and AOL's filing with the FCC that replies to the public comment on the merger.

In the filing, the two make their case as to why they think the public will benefit from the merger.

Disney's injunction

Faced with transmission being halted, Disney's network filed a federal injunction to get hits like "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" and "NYPD Blue" back on TV screens.

After the FCC met both parties in Washington, Time Warner restored the network televison service until at least 15 July to allow time for more negotiations.

Originally, Time Warner Cable spokesman Michael Luftman, had said that the channel was removed after "we passed the deadline for an agreement and the law prohibited us to continue ABC's signal".

He said Disney wanted a large increase in fee payments, which would lead to higher costs for cable customers.

The decision to remove the channel had affected 3.5 million households.

Time Warner claimed it had made "a series of reasonable proposals to Disney that would have kept ABC on Time Warner cable systems until the end of the year. Unfortunately, Disney rejected every proposal."

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AOL-Time Warner merger opposed
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