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TCI retreats from cyberspace

The giant cable television company will end its foray into cyberspace and refocus on its core cable services.

Tele-Communications Incorporated (TCICP) will return its focus to its core cable television services after a brief foray into cyberspace.

TCI was too quick to embrace new technology markets such as the Internet and telephone services, CEO John Malone admitted in a report in the Wall Street Journal.

TCI is the largest cable company in the United States. Malone said his company would return to cable and scale back plans to become a player in telecommunications and the Internet. The CEO said using cables for television to deliver telephone service--one of many new technologies--may not be the right answer in today's market.

The move is not surprising. TCI's recent stock performance has disappointed some investors.

The stock was trading today at 13-3/8, up 5/16 of a point. It has traded as high as 22-3/8 and as low as 11-1/4 in the past 52 weeks.

The cable giant already had been taking steps to cool its investment in cyberspace. In November, TCI said it had withdrawn a $125 million investment in the Microsoft Newtork. It continues to pursue high-speed Internet access with the @Home network, although Comcast and Cox now share the investment in the venture. That new ownership structure was announced earlier this year; TCI originally was the lone cable television investor in @Home.

In a companywide cost-cutting bid, TCI recently announced plans to cut its staff by 2,500 and the pay of top managers by 20 percent.