PA: Cable TV Oversight Could Shift To State

Posted on February 7, 2008 - 9:27pm.


Cable TV Oversight Could Shift To State
posted 6:38 pm Thu February 07, 2008 -

The State House Consumer Affairs Committee is considering a bill that would eliminate the local franchise agreements for cable TV companies. Instead the State Public Utility commission would deal with cable. Norman Stanton of Halifax wants to dump dial-up internet service because his wife is taking online college courses. "Every time she starts her homework," says Stanton, "You're knocked off the dial-up. So we have to have a high-speed internet." Stanton ordered Comcast high speed internet more than month ago. He got a bill but getting his high speed installed has been slow. "Every time you call you talk to somebody different," says Stanton. "And nobody knows what the other one said." Stanton also complained to his local borough about Comcast but a state lawmaker wants to change all that.

"This is a large issue. It has large interests," says State Representative Todd Eachus, a Democrat from Luzerne County. Under the Eachus bill being debated by the House Consumer Affairs Committee, cable TV agreements with local municipalities would stop. Instead, state government would negotiate with cable companies.

The union representing thousands of communications workers in the state, supports the bill. "Today a new cable entrant must negotiate with 26-hundred separate local jurisdictions to obtain a franchise to provide video service," says Debbie Goldman of the Communications Workers Association.
The union says change would mean less red tape for cable companies and more jobs.

But Verizon, who will soon provide TV service in our area, says the current system works, so why change it?

The authority lies with the local municipalities and the negotiation of franchise fees is going on with Verizon as it has with the cable industry traditionally," says Sharon Shaffer, a spokesperson with Verizon.