Spouses battle in world piano competition

AN American is opposing his Russian wife for top honors in the World Piano Competition - but both insist it is no strain on their marriage.

Peter Wittenberg, of Santa Clara, Calif., and Maria Demina, of St. Petersburg first met at a piano competition in Ohio. They are no strangers to the hothouse atmosphere.

But this time the stakes are especially high. They are competing for a top prize of $15,750, but, most importantly, a chance to launch an international career with a string of top concert appearances around the globe.

Midway through the grueling two-week contest, which ends Sept. 27 with Princess Diana presenting the prize, Wittenberg insists there are no discordant notes with his wife.

``It is not a test of marriage, not at all. We are very supportive of each other,'' he said in an interview before another long day of rehearsals.

She agrees: ``Not at all - no strains. I don't think of the competition as a battle. We go and listen to each other and try to correct each other.''

More than 130 applicants, hoping to be the next Rubinstein or Ashkenazy, applied to the competition. The field, limited to those 16 to 29 years old, was whittled down to 42 competitors from 15 countries.

Like the Tchaikovsky in Moscow, the Artur Rubinstein in Tel Aviv, the Leeds in northern England, and the Queen Elizabeth II in Brussels, this triennial competition can be a real test of stamina before what could be a fickle jury. FCC report finds cable still reigns

THE nation's cable television operators still dominate most of the markets they serve, but upstart rivals have begun to make inroads, the United States Federal Communications Commission said

Sept. 19.

In its first annual report to Congress on the matter, the FCC found that cable TV is still the only way most consumers can gain access to a wide array of news, sports, entertainment, and educational channels.

What's more, the 11,000 local cable systems nationwide face direct competition from a second system in a few scattered areas of the country.

Despite the FCC's orders that cable companies cut their rates, many of the large cable operators have reported revenue increases for the first half of 1994, the report notes.

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