The Federal Communications Commission has approved Bell Atlantic Corp.’s bid to become the first regional Bell telephone company to deliver films and other video programming over phone lines.

The approval stems from an FCC decision last year to allow telcos to deliver programming over a “video dialtone,” an ambitious plan that permits customers to “dial up” TV shows or films over the phone line and be billed on a per-program basis.

Bell Atlantic, which is the local phone service provider in the Mid-Atlantic region, plans to test video dialtone in the homes of 400 of its employees in the D.C. suburbs.

FCC approval of the VDT test came despite the objection of the National Cable Television Assn.

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