TV Choice Act

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?

7 comments

  1. NancyHart says:

    Questions
    Will we still have local access channels?
    Do alternative cable companies have the infrastructure to offer services to the whole state?

  2. Chris says:

    From what I understand the providers will be required to offer 3 local access channels.

    As to your second question, there is still the question of building out infrastructure, but that becomes a technical and cost/benefit issue, not a regulatory one.

  3. Chris says:

    There is only so much wine a beaurocrat can drink before he/she passes out. It still saves consumers money.

  4. Erick says:

    As a former writer on issues related to cable franchises, this is an excellent approach to lowering costs and opening the markets to competition.

  5. Demonbeck says:

    Now if only we could get Georgia’s antiquated liquor laws sorted out – I’d have nothing to complain about.

    Just kidding – if I had nothing to complain about, I’d complain about having nothing to complain about.

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