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Cable TV Magnate Will Dedicate Fortune To Promoting Education

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The head of the country's largest cable television company recently announced that after he dies almost all of his $1.5 billion fortune will be used to endow a foundation dedicated to improving education.

John C. Malone, the 56-year-old chairman and chief executive officer of the Denver-based Tele-Communications Inc., plans to underwrite the Malone Family Foundation with most of his 42 million shares of company stock.

Because the endowment will come from stock holdings, it could ultimately be worth significantly more or less than the current $1.5 billion market value of the shares. The cable company's stock has been performing well recently and has more than doubled in value since this time last year.

Mr. Malone could not be reached for comment.

A spokeswoman for the cable magnate said his decision to channel his wealth into a foundation reflects his long-standing interest in educational issues.

Tele-Communications Inc. is a major sponsor of Cable in the Classroom, a $420 million service of the cable industry that provides 75 percent of the country's K-12 schools with free cable connections and educational programming.

Mr. Malone told the Rocky Mountain News in an interview this month that his two adult children support the idea of creating a foundation they could oversee as trustees, and that they don't want to become extremely wealthy.

"I think your kids are destroyed by too much wealth, not enhanced by it," Mr. Malone was quoted as saying. "It's one thing to give them responsibility for looking after it and giving it to others. But it's another thing to [risk turning] them into jet-setters."

Foundation's Focus Unclear

The Malone Family Foundation will not be formed until Mr. Malone dies.

He has not yet revealed what types of educational projects the foundation will support.

Mr. Malone, who amassed his enormous wealth during 26 years at TCI, is a board member of the Cato Institute, a Washington-based think tank that promotes libertarian principles.

Mr. Malone made his plans for the foundation public following a protracted legal dispute with the sons of Tele-Communications Inc.'s founder, the late Bob J. Magness, over their inherited share of the company's stock.

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