Heart of Communications Ad Campaign Deflects MCI Bullets

"Heart of Communications" Ad Campaign Deflects MCI Bullets

Long-distance company tries to reduce its access fee bills with misleading consumer ads

April 21, 1997

Media contacts:

Shannon Fioravanti



ARLINGTON, Va. -- Bell Atlantic is launching a positive consumer ad
campaign today to counter the stream of false and misleading ads about
access charges that have been sponsored by MCI during the past month.

"MCI has continued to air misleading ads that claim we are
'overcharging' our customers. The fact is, Bell Atlantic does not
charge consumers one cent in access fees," said Eric Rabe, Bell
Atlantic assistant vice president, corporate communications. "Access
charges are approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
MCI is placing misleading ads to try to reduce their own costs and
damage the reputation of one of its competitors."

"It's tempting to shoot back. But we're not about to get into the mud
with MCI," said Rabe. "We do, however, fully intend to defend
ourselves in a way that is representative of the Bell Atlantic name."

"Unfortunately, MCI's attack ads show a lack of standards. Our
customers are offended by their gun-slinging business tactics," he

Among the facts that MCI has withheld from its own series of ads:

  • Access charges are based on rules established by the FCC, and set
    out in tariffs that are closely scrutinized by the FCC and
    long-distance providers. These are lawful, filed rates: not a "rip
    off" or an "overcharge;"

  • Customers don't pay these access charges, long-distance companies

  • Reductions in access charges go directly to MCI and other
    long-distance companies;

  • Bell Atlantic and other regional phone companies have lowered
    access charges by $9 billion in the past four years; and

  • MCI's basic long-distance rates have steadily increased despite the
    recent access fee reductions.

Bell Atlantic has previously demanded that MCI withdraw its attack
ads. Company attorneys have also written to broadcast station
executives informing them that MCI's ads cross over the line and
violate federal law.

The new radio, television and print ads will run in the Bell Atlantic
region indefinitely. Broadcast ads began airing in some markets last
Thursday while print advertising starts on Friday in major newspapers.

Bell Atlantic Corp. (NYSE: BEL) is at the forefront of the new
communications, entertainment and information industry. In the
mid-Atlantic region, the company is the premier provider of local
telecommunications and advanced services. Globally, it is one of the
largest investors in the high-growth wireless communication
marketplace. Bell Atlantic also owns a substantial interest in
Telecom Corporation of New Zealand and is actively developing
high-growth national and international business opportunities in all
phases of the industry.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Scripts for Bell Atlantic's
radio and television ads

are attached. Additional information about HREF="http://www.bell-atl.com/access/">access
charges and the
current ad campaign are available through the Internet.