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TN: Legislators Say Bill Sought By AT$T Finally Ready

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Created 04/13/2008 - 6:33am

From: The Chattanoogan [1]

Legislators Say Bill Sought By AT&T Finally Ready
posted April 4, 2008

Legislative leaders said they have finally reached agreement on a statewide franchise bill sought by AT&T that is expected to result in a new cable TV option for Chattanooga residents and others throughout Tennessee.

On Monday afternoon, House and Senate members working directly in talks with AT&T and Tennessee’s cable companies are due to hold a press conference to announce the completion of a new telecommunications bill.

Officials said copies of the agreement will be provided after the Nashville press conference.

Set to take part are Speaker of the House Jimmy Naifeh (D-Covington), Rep. Charlie Curtiss (D-Sparta), Rep. Steve McDaniel (R-Parkers Crossroads), Rep. Ulysses Jones, Jr. (D-Memphis), Rep. Randy Rinks (D-Savannah), Sen. Lowe Finney (D-Jackson) and Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro).
The bill was introduced last year, but has gone through a number of revisions before the compromise measure was reached.

The City Council and County Commission recently endorsed the bill after officials hear said their concerns had been addressed.

Mayor Ron Littlefield said in endorsing the bill, "Competition levels the playing field and allows our citizens to enjoy lower prices and better service."

EPB is also taking strides toward setting up a cable TV venture in Chattanooga.

The city is currently served only by Comcast cable as well as satellite services.

Comcast is fighting the EPB venture with a lawsuit filed in Nashville. EPB hopes to be offered local cable TV service by this fall, but has not yet been able to get the suit dismissed.

Patsy Hazlewood of AT&T said the city of Chattanooga would be getting up to five percent of revenues paid on a quarterly basis as a franchise fee. She said typically AT&T picks up over 20 percent of its customers from satellite providers, and she said that will be new revenue to the city.

AT&T had asked to be granted a statewide cable TV franchise rather than having to deal with individual cities.

Ms. Hazlewood said AT&T would spend up to $400 million in developing the cable TV system in Tennessee and create 2,000 jobs.

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