Panel Leaders OK National Franchise

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[SOURCE: Multichannel News, AUTHOR: Ted Hearn]
House Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX), Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Reps. Chip Pickering (R-Miss), Committee ranking members John Dingell (D-MI) and Rep Edward Markey (D-MA) have apparently agreed in principle to award a national cable franchise to phone companies and to subject cable operators to continued local franchising requirements until phone rivals have reached 15% local-video-market penetration. Under the House agreement, one provision would withhold regulatory relief from cable until the phone company had secured 15% of local video market. Under current law, cable operators are price-deregulated on the basic tier when pay TV competitors are serving more than 15% of local households. Sources familiar with the agreement stressed that legislative language had not been crafted and that many details had not been worked out. Capitol Hill sources could not elaborate on the 15% test, including whether it meant 15% of local households, 15% of local TV households or 15% of local pay TV households. A second provision would protect phone companies from predatory pricing tactics by cable incumbents. As explained by sources, if the cable company cut its rates to meet or beat phone-company video prices, the cable company would be required to make the price cuts available to its entire local subscriber base, not just those homes served or capable of being served by the local phone company.
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* House Panel Might Debate Telecom Measure Next Week
[SOURCE: Congress Daily, AUTHOR: Drew Clark]

* Commerce Minds Meeting on National Franchise
(free access for Benton's Headlines subscribers)

In a related story...
* Verizon Details Delays
[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable, AUTHOR: John Eggerton]
Verizon told the FCC Wednesday that delays caused by local franchise negotiations continue to delay the roll-out of its FiOS video service. In additional comments in the FCC's inquiry into franchise reform, the telco said that of 95 negotiations pending as of March 1, 2005, only 10 had been granted. Of 238 negotiations in progress as of six months ago, it said, only 15 franchises have been granted. Of the total 301 negotiations still underway, said Verizon, 22 are into their 15th month, 85 are over a year and the rest between six months and a year, said the company.
(free access for Benton's Headlines subscribers)