Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Cable Franchise Bill Debate Continues

AT&T is continuing their effort - both in Tennessee and nationwide - to rewrite the laws regarding cable TV franchises. I am all for competition and the rules are already in place to allow phone companies to compete for local franchises -- so why rewrite the law and give away control of those fees and contracts and the local control of rights-of-way to the state?

In their legislative wrap-up from last week, state House Republicans had this comment:

"Controversy over the Competitive Cable and Video Services Act has not slowed this week, as representatives from both AT&T and the Tennessee Municipal League addressed members ofthe House Commerce Committee.

The bill, House Bill 1421, would allow providers of video services to obtain a statewide license instead of multiple franchises from cities and counties. Two weeks ago, the Federal Communications Commission issued a report in which new rules will make it easier for companies like AT&T to obtain local franchises.

Opponents of the legislation are now arguing that there is no need for the bill, and any state action at this point would be redundant since the FCC is the governing body.

The Tennessee Municipal League,representing 347 city and town governments, argued that the bill would maliciously expose citizens to higher prices and poor service. However, AT&T and sponsors of the bill are arguing that competition is good for the marketplace, and that implementing broadband in rural areas is a critical need.

They argued that other states have implemented similar plans, and that because control is handed back to the subscriber, cable customers have seen as much as a $22 drop in price. The final argument was that an estimated 2,000 jobs would be the direct result of implementation."

(via the press release)

I've explained my opposition to this bill before and encouraged you to contact your elected officials and do the same.

I was happy to hear back from Senator Steve Southerland on this, who reported he doubted he could support this bill, that he was "still listening" to the debate. State Representative Litz has yet to respond to emails on this issue.

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