FCC Seeks Ways to Ease Telcos’ Entry Into Video

Nov 3, 2005  •  Post A Comment

As part of an effort to make it easier for telephone companies to launch TV operations, the Federal Communications Commission launched proceedings Thursday to determine steps the agency can take to ensure that state and local governmental authorities don’t abuse their power by unreasonably denying cable TV franchises to new competitors.

Major phone companies — including SBC Communications and Verizon Communications — have been complaining that local franchising obligations have been creating unnecessary hurdles to phone company efforts to offer television services. In its action Thursday, the FCC tentatively concluded that the Communications Act empowers the agency to thwart steps by local franchising authorities to erect “unreasonable” barriers to new cable TV competitors.

However, the agency said that it also tentatively concluded that it wasn’t unreasonable for local franchising authorities to use their power to set build-out deadlines, establish public educational and governmental access channel obligations and ensure that cable TV operators in their communities don’t discriminate against low-income neighborhoods.

“New video entrants, regardless of the technology they employ, should be encouraged, not impeded from entry,” said FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.