The Senate passed the House’s TV Choice Act today, and I think its a good bill. Admittedly my eyes bleed while trying to read it, but the basic jist is this:
Currently, TV operators have to go to each municipality to negotiate a franchise agreement. This process can take over a year and usually involves wining and dining county commissioners. Its expensive, involves lots of lawyers and the only upside is that a municipality can demand extra local access channels.
Well HB227 changes that. It allows TV providers the ability to apply for a statewide franchise from the Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs. Its sets a 5% cap on the franchise fee which would passed along to the municipality to cover the costs of maintaining the right-of-way.
There are two main benefits to this:
1) Cable companies will be forced to compete with each other. Up here in Gwinnett I’ve got Charter. Should Comcast decided to get a statewide franchise and run the cables, I’d be able to get Comcast service too. That will force Charter to compete on price and features with Comcast. Clark Howard would be happy.
2) By only having to negotiate one franchise, it saves the operators money and those savings would be returned to the consumers or passed along to shareholders. Anything to take lawyers out of the picture is good for all of us.
Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth), who spoke on behalf of the bill in the Senate said “The point of the bill was to create new regulatory options to facilitate competition.” Competition is good for businesses and good for the consumer.
This doesn’t just benefit AT&T (the money behind the bill). There are other players in the IPTV space, and this will help them too. As someone whose been involved with the Internet and convergence issues for over ten years, I’ll say this is a good bill that will bring good things.
But I do have a question for the readers, was this the only state level bill to have a radio/tv campaign behind it?