TN: Comcast, AT$T work together on new bill for franchising rights

Posted on April 13, 2008 - 6:35am.

from: Memphis Business Journal

Friday, April 4, 2008
Comcast, AT&T work together on new bill for franchising rights
by Einat Paz-Frankel Staff writer

After vociferously contending an AT&T, Inc.-backed bill on the state's Capitol Hill last year, Comcast Corp. is now working with the telecom giant behind closed doors to create a new bill that will assuage both parties while changing the way video franchising rights are granted in Tennessee.

A resolution is expected this month, according to the Tennessee Cable Telecommunications Association and the Tennessee Municipal League, which has also opposed the proposed Competitive Cable and Video Services Act. The bill would allow television service to be provided through a single statewide franchise agreement, instead of negotiating with each municipality separately.

AT&T seeks to offer U-verse -- television carried over broadband Internet -- in direct competition with Comcast's cable television offerings. AT&T's attempt to enter the market without striking agreements with local governments was met with resistance from both the TCTA and some Tennessee mayors. Local governments have had jurisdiction over who is allowed to provide information and entertainment services using their towns' rights of way for decades.

TML executive director Margaret Mahery says the league lobbied against the original bill because it believes the local franchising process works. By request of House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, TML is working with lawmakers, AT&T and cable companies to "craft something that would be a workable solution" for all parties, Mahery says.

( categories: AT&T | Comcast | State Franchises | TENNESSEE )