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Brian L. Roberts

chairmain & ceo, comcast, corp.

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Brian Roberts addresses the Chief Executives’ Club of Boston.

Comcast Isn't Ready to Sweeten Disney Bid

Comcast Corp. chief executive Brian Roberts said Wednesday that "some facts would have to change" before his company would consider raising its offer for Walt Disney Co. Speaking to fellow CEOs in his company's largest cable market, Roberts reiterated previous comments that the proposed Disney acquisition is not a "must have" for Comcast. The company's bid for Disney was initially valued at $54 billion, at least 10 percent higher than Disney stock at the time, but changing stock prices have since erased that premium. Disney has rebuffed the proposal. Roberts told reporters after a speech at The Boston College Chief Executives' Club that Comcast would wait to see "in the fullness of time where the market settles out." Meanwhile, Roberts and other company officials said Philadelphia-based Comcast plans to make the Springfield and Hartford, Conn., region one of two test markets later this year for much-vaunted Voice Over IP technology, which could route calls over the Internet.

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A who's-who crowd including Thomas Reilly (Attorney General, Commonwealth of MA), Patrick Purcell (President, Herald Media) and Richard Gilman (Publisher, Boston Globe) listen to Roberts' keynote speech.

The company expects a consumer rollout in 2005 across New England. Roberts said during his speech that 95 percent of its plant would be ready to handle IP by the end of the year. Time Warner Cable has begun offering the service in a few markets. Roberts also said that, with new technologies moving into place, Comcast was considering taking another look at selling services to small businesses. "Our history revolves around the consumer," Roberts said. But he said Comcast was putting together a group to look again at small business. "Now that we have Voice over IP and high-speed Internet, I think we'd try it again," Roberts said.

Philadelphia-based Comcast, founded in 1963 by Roberts's father, Ralph, as a single cable system in Tupelo, Miss., became the dominant cable TV provider in Massachusetts and New England in November 2002 after closing its $45 billion purchase of AT&T Broadband, which itself had rolled up local providers including Continental Cablevision, Time Warner Cable, and Cablevision of Boston. Roberts said his firm launched several improvements since then. Comcast hired 3,000 customer service representatives, with 500 in New England.

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Mr. Roberts, Thomas Menino (Mayor, City of Boston), Robert Kraft (Chairman, Kraft Group/Owner, New England Patriots) and Dr. Charles Baker (President, Harvard-Pilgrim Healthcare) listen to event host Ted Kelly's (Chairman, Liberty Mutual - Not Pictured) introduction of Mr. Roberts.

Portions of the above are extracted from an Associated Press article by Justin Pope which ran March 25, 2004.