News Briefs: Virginia Governor Signs Franchise Bill

Mar 13, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine signed into law Friday a bill designed to simplify the process of obtaining a video franchise license by ensuring local governments approve franchise applications more quickly. The new law, designed to discourage municipal governments from prolonging the approval process, mandates that local governments in the state approve video franchise applications within 75 days. While telephone companies such as AT&T and Verizon Communications have been pressing state legislatures to pass bills that allow for statewide video franchises, such a move in Virginia would have required a change in the Virginia Constitution, which gives local governments control of right-of-way issues. Texas already has a law allowing for statewide video franchise licensing, and a similar bill is awaiting signature on the Indiana governor’s desk. Other states taking up the statewide franchising issue include Kansas, Missouri, South Carolina and California.

FCC Nominee Downplays Possibility of Conflicts

Federal Communications Commission nominee Robert McDowell addressed conflict of interest concerns during his Senate Commerce Committee confirmation hearings last week, saying that if he were appointed to the FCC he would seek counsel from agency attorneys to ensure that his actions as a commissioner in particular cases would not raise conflict issues related to his current employment as senior VP and assistant general counsel for the trade group CompTel. Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, said he will try to schedule a committee confirmation vote for March 16. If confirmed as the FCC’s fifth commissioner, Mr. McDowell would give FCC Chairman Kevin Martin a Republican majority at the agency. Mr. McDowell would leave CompTel if confirmed to the FCC.

CAB Founder Robert Alter Dies

Robert Alter, founder of the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau, died last Thursday at his home in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., from the effects of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. He was 77. Mr. Alter served as the CAB’s first president and CEO from 1980 to 1991. Most recently he worked as a consultant to TV industry clients, including the Chinese government, which was exploring the possibility of bringing cable to that country. Mr. Alter is survived by his wife, three daughters and five grandchildren.

Bravo Acquires ‘Six Feet Under’

Bravo has acquired the exclusive rebroadcast rights to HBO drama “Six Feet Under.” Bravo plans to run all 63 one-hour episodes of the series beginning this fall.

Nickelodeon to Bolster Nonlinear Development

Nickelodeon is making a multimillion-dollar commitment to develop content for nonlinear platforms, the network said last week during its upfront presentation to advertisers in New York. “We’re in a digital era for kids,” said Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon and MTV Networks Kids and Family Group. “We already are programming to kids on 15 different platforms, and we’re excited to be expanding our tradition of strong content development to reach across broadband, digital and wireless screens that have become a daily part of their lives.” Ms. Zarghami said it’s important not just to move content from TV to other platforms but to develop content specifically for each platform.

Brown Joins NBCU Syndie Sales Team

Patricia Brown has been named VP of Midwest advertising and media sales for NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution. Ms. Brown, who most recently was manager of television advertising sales for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, will be based in Chicago and will oversee all Midwest advertiser and media sales for the division.