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House Subcommittee Sets Hearing on Bill to Ease Telco Entry Into Cable TV

Nov 7, 2005  •  Post A Comment

The House telecommunications subcommittee has scheduled a hearing Wednesday on legislation aimed at making it easier for telephone companies to get into the cable TV business. The draft bill under subcommittee consideration would allow broadband video service providers to avoid the obligation to negotiate local cable TV franchises. But at the same time the bill would subject broadband video providers to many of the regulatory obligations faced by local cable systems, including a requirement they pay a fee of up to 5 percent of their revenues to the local governments in which they offer TV services. The bill also would subject broadband video operators to must-carry obligations and a series of Federal Communications Commission regulations aimed at protecting the territorial integrity of local TV stations. Of concern to broadcasters is that the bill directs the FCC to review the broadcast regulations issue every four years to determine whether the station protections are still necessary. “We welcome telco entry into video, but we expect the rules protecting local TV stations will apply equally to them as well as cable,” said Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters.