Andrew Kantor: CyberSpeak
> Cable, Phone Companies Battle to be Everything
> Andrew Kantor, USA TODAY
> It looks to be a busy year for lawmakers, technology-
When cable television first came along, towns and cities
> were happy to get the extra channels. At the same time,
> though, they realized that the problem with cable TV was,
> well, cables. If 10 cable companies converged on an area,
> there would be wires hanging all over the place,
> streets dug up, traffic snarled, dogs and cats living
> together; you get the idea.
> So municipalities started to offer cable franchises, in
> which one cable company was granted the exclusive right
> to service an area. In exchange for a virtual monopoly,
> it agreed to wire every home and not discriminate
> against the poor side of town, among other things.
Cable television franchises do not "grant the exclusive right to service an area." Every cable TV franchise agreement I've ever seen claimed to be non-exclusive. Even the City of Roanoke's franchise ordinance is non-exclusive, a fact that Kantor could have checked easily with a phone call to the City Clerk.
Under the terms of these agreements, all franchisees are required to abide by the same requirements, including "wire every home and not discriminate against the poor side of town..." Plus pay a 5% (actually 5.26%) franchise fee, provide free service to government buildings and schools, provide PEG access channels, support PEG access production.
No wonder Verizon is trying to make an end run local franchising authorities.