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JONES CABLE IN SUBURBS TO BE SOLD

The limited partnership that runs the Jones Intercable cable television system in suburban Buffalo has put the local operation up for sale, a company executive said Friday.

Mark Alford, the general manager of the Lancaster-based system, said the limited partnership closed the bidding for the local franchise Friday night.

Although the limited partnership, which is formally known as Cable TV Fund 11-B, owns the local franchise, Jones Intercable has been managing the system. Jones has indicated that it is interested in bidding on the local franchise, Alford said.

"One of our objectives at this point is to own the cable systems that we operate," said Erica Stull, Jones' director of corporate communications at the firm's headquarters in Englewood, Colo. "We're consolidating the assets."

Neither Alford nor Ms. Stull said they had any information about other potential bidders.

"We could be selling it to a third party or to ourselves," Ms. Stull said.

Just what impact the possible sale of the system will have on the local operation will depend on who buys it, the cable officials said.

If Jones purchases it, the changes are likely to be relatively minor. But it is possible that the changes could be more extensive if the system is sold to a buyer other than Jones, they said.

Jones Intercable is one of the nation's 10 largest cable television operators. It owns or manages cable systems that serve about 1.3 million customers in more than 20 states.

Jones said late last year that it planned to embark on a "balanced but aggressive program of acquisitions," including cable systems owned by the limited partnerships it manages, after Bell Canada Inc. agreed to buy a 30 percent stake in the cable firm for $261 million.

Bell Canada also has agreed to pay $52 million for an eight-year option to buy control of the cable TV company and will invest another $35 million in other Jones assets.

Jones agreed last month to buy a cable television system in Augusta, Ga., that it had been managing for a limited partnership, known as the Cable TV Fund 12-B, for nearly $142 million. That system serves about 66,000 subscribers in six communities.

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