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Barton Voices Support for National Cable Franchising

Feb 28, 2006  •  Post A Comment

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Joe Barton said Tuesday he supports replacing the nation’s existing system of local cable TV franchising with a national scheme-a proposal advanced by major telephone companies-and hopes to release a legislative draft on the subject later this week.

Rep. Barton, R-Texas, also said he planned to meet with other top committee legislators Tuesday afternoon, with hopes of working out a bipartisan consensus on video franchise reform and other key telecommunications issues. “It’s my intention to mark some bill up in subcommittee this month,” Rep. Barton told reporters after an appearance at a conference hosted by the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington.

In remarks to the broadcasters, Rep. Barton also said he doesn’t think DTV-related legislation that broadcasters hope will include a provision to require cable TV operators to carry all signals multicast on digital channels will move this year. Also unlikely this year, he said, is legislation that would resurrect a broadcast flag-technology that broadcasters think is necessary to prevent downloading of digital broadcast programming.