Updated from 12:59 p.m. EDT


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, the high-speed Internet access company and Web portal, has named its chief executive and president, George Bell, as its chairman, the company said Monday.

Bell, 43, a former documentary filmmaker who once served as senior vice president of

Times Mirror Magazines

, became chief executive of


in 1996 and chief executive of the combined Excite and

At Home

companies in January.

As chairman, Bell replaces Tom Jermoluk, who will remain a director, the company said.

The move was widely expected. Excite@Home finished Monday regular trading down 7/16, or 2%, at 17 1/2.

Jermoluk has not played a role in day-to-day operations since quitting the chief executive post. He told

Business Week

last month that the past year, during which he has devoted much of his time to negotiating with cable companies, has been the worst of his life.


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Cox Communications





have large stakes in the company. Excite@Home has a contractual agreement allowing it to exclusively provide high-speed Internet access over the cable companies' wires until June 2002.

Both Cox and Comcast also have agreed to use Excite@Home on a nonexclusive basis through 2006. But the issue that Bell could face is that each cable company has the right to end the entire distribution agreement starting in June 2001.

"Our intent is to honor the contract until that point," said Ellen East, spokeswoman for Cox. "At that point, it is entirely likely that we would be nonexclusive. Our belief is that that's what our customers want us to do."

But she added that "two years is like 1,000 years in Internet time."

Jermoluk's departure was first reported in

The Wall Street Journal


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