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Wall St. gives thumbs up to FCC’s cable rate regs

The final step of cable regulation was greeted with wide approval Tuesday on Wall Street, with the entire industry enjoying a surge in stock prices.

On Monday, the Federal Communications Commission issued its report that outlined a rollback of rates across the country.

Despite the agency’s estimate that the move would cost cable operators as much as $ 1 billion in revenues, the largest gains on the market were made by the biggest MSOs.

The nation’s largest franchise owner, Tele-Communications Inc., jumped $ 2.50 to $ 21.50, while Comcast Corp. added $ 2.125 to $ 20.625. Cablevision gained $ 3.625, or 12.2%, to close at $ 33.25.

The agency guidelines, say analysts, will affect two-thirds to three-quarters of the franchises, with lower revenues likely at the largest companies.

“At least the uncertainty is over,” said Salomon Brothers analyst Ben Bendre. Still, it is difficult to discern what the fallout will be.

“It’s hard to say how this will impact each company individually,” said Jessica Reif, a media analyst with Oppenheimer & Co., “but what is important is that it looks like the big companies will be able to grow cash flow over the next year.”

Even cable programmers were bouyed. QVC Network added $ 3.375 to end the day at $ 44.75 and Liberty Media gained $ 1.50 to end at $ 17.50.

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