The Chicago Baby Bell, Ameritech Corp., asked federal courts in Illinois and Michigan for permission to supply cable service in the five-state area where it provides local phone service.

The suit is the first from a regional Bell company since Bell Atlantic Corp. won similar permission from a federal court in Virginia this summer, and the other Baby Bells are expected to follow.

Ameritech is asking the courts to overturn the provisions of a 1984 federal cable law that bar them from offering cable to customers in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio.

Ameritech is alleging that the law violates its First Amendment right to free speech and its Fifth Amendment right to equal protection, since other companies compete for cable customers.

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