It was another Q of sub losses at Mediacom [MCCC], but there were some shining stars, notably ARPUs and revenue. 4Q revenue increased 8.3% to $258.8mln, with analysts attributing some growth to strong ARPUs (likely a result of MCCC scaling back promotional offers), and it affirmed ’04 revenue guidance of $1.075bln-$1.085bln. "We view this as a sign that MCCC is growing revenue in a disciplined fashion," a Smith Barney research note says. "We continue to forecast a 3% decline for basic subs in ’04, and believe that MCCC shares offer attractive value for patient investors." But with satellite continuing to launch local-into-local in many of MCCC’s rural markets, sub losses continue. For 4Q, MCCC lost 9K basic subs, for a 2.9% decline yr-over-yr, and it lost 10K digital subs. It picked up 19K new HSD subs. MCCC estimated DBS will have launched local-into-local to about 83% of HHs passed by mid-year, though it noted the bleeding in older local-into-local markets is slowing. "Our efforts are concentrated more on providing customers with a differentiated product and a fair price," chmn/CEO Rocco Commisso says. MCCC rolls out DVRs in March, with about 25% of its customer base having access to the service next month. By year-end, DVR service should be available to 70% of the customer base. — ESPN Deals: What did the outspoken Commisso have to say re Cox [COX] and Charter’s [CHTR] recent ESPN deals? "I don’t want to take any credit for it, but clearly what we did at the FCC, what we did in our public speaking, we think had a lot to do with it. It set up the stage for this situation, which benefits us and the industry." MCCC is under the old ESPN contract, which doesn’t expire until ’06, but Commissio said ESPN’s already talking about a contract using the Cox/Charter template.

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