A Senate committee yesterday dampened the telephone industry's hopes of entering the cable television business by substantially weakening a bill that would have permitted phone companies to offer video programming.

In a move cheered by the cable TV industry, broadcasters and newspaper publishers, the Senate Commerce Committee left in place current regulations that prohibit phone companies from selling video and text services over telephone lines.

A compromise measure, approved unanimously on a voice vote, would allow the phone industry to build voice and video transmission facilities without having to seek the approval of local franchising authorities. However, the industry would still be barred from owning or controlling the programming that aired on such a system -- a restriction that the industry has argued takes away much of the economic incentive for building the facilities in the first place.

The telephone industry has lobbied hard in recent months to win Congress's blessing to expand into video. The industry's representatives say lifting the restrictions would bring about greater competition in the cable business, whose critics have called it "an unregulated monopoly." Unless it is granted a share of the lucrative video market, the industry says it will take much longer to construct a nationwide network of fiber optic wires, which may someday bring a flood of new video services -- from two-way teleconferences to electronic newspapers -- into the average American home.

The idea is opposed by the existing cable industry in alliance with broadcasters and publishers, who fear that the phone companies will use their monopoly muscle to eliminate competitors.

Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), the author of bill to permit limited telephone company entry, yesterday agreed to have the Federal Communications Commission study his plan for a year in exchange for support from committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) for the heavily amended bill.

"At least this keeps the issue alive for us," said a phone-industry source. "The patient still has a pulse." However, James P. Mooney, president of the National Cable Television Association, said, "We believe today's action settles the {telephone company-TV} issue for this Congress, and quite possibly, for the foreseeable future."

The issue is apparently dead in the House, where last week Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) failed to muster enough support for his proposal to open the way for the phone industry.