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Verizon Chief Calls for Broadcasters’ Support

Apr 18, 2005  •  Post A Comment

To clear the way for phone companies to get into the TV business, Ivan Seidenberg, CEO and chairman of Verizon Communications, asked broadcasters on Monday to support a phone industry effort to avoid traditional cable franchise regulation.

Under the traditional approach, cable operators must get franchises from local government authorities, for which they pay up to 5 percent of revenues. But in remarks during the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, Mr. Seidenberg suggested that the company would prefer to switch to a state or national franchise. “We need to find a way to break down the biggest barrier to our entry into video,” Mr. Seidenberg said.

As a trade-off of sorts, Mr. Seidenberg suggested that the phone company would be friendly to broadcasters on such issues as must carry and retransmission consent of their digital content. “With the tremendous bandwidth on our systems — and with our business interest in providing as much content as possible — we believe we can effectively address all these issues in a way that expands the market for us both,” Mr. Siendenberg said.

Said Dennis Wharton, an NAB spokesman, in response, “Local broadcasters are very encouraged by Mr. Seidenberg’s remarks. Stations want their programming on as many platforms as possible. We look forward to continuing dialogue with telephone companies over terms related to their carriage of our local broadcast programming.”