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CO: Qwest backs bill allowing state cable franchise

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Created 02/07/2007 - 9:08am

from: Denver Post [1]

Qwest backs bill allowing state cable franchise

By Kimberly S. Johnson
Denver Post Staff Writer
Article Last Updated: 02/06/2007 11:11:25 PM MST

Qwest's Colorado president Chuck Ward faced tough questions Tuesday from members of a state House committee, as he testified in support of a bill to create a statewide cable-TV franchise agreement.

Members of the House Energy and Transportation Committee heard testimony on House Bill 1222, the Colorado Consumer Cable Act, which would enable companies - like Qwest - that are trying to offer cable-TV service to eliminate the local franchising process. Currently, companies must negotiate with cities and towns for individual agreements. The bill would require companies to seek an application for a state franchise from the Public Utilities Commission.
"This bill is about bringing products to market," Ward said. "The incumbent already has a preferred position in that market."

Comcast, which serves metro Denver, is the largest cable-TV company in Colorado. Bill sponsor Rep. David Balmer, R-Centennial, said additional competition would lower prices.

Opponents of the bill said passing it would take power and revenues away from local authorities and doesn't require companies such as Qwest to offer service to all neighborhoods.

A member of the Black Ministerial Alliance, the Rev. Patrick Demmer, opposed the bill on grounds that a lack of a buildout requirement would lead to redlining and discrimination against low-income communities.

The committee did not vote on the bill Tuesday, as it awaits a fiscal note to see how the legislation would affect the state financially.
However, Rep. Liane McFadden, D-Pueblo, chairwoman of the committee, said she wasn't persuaded by Ward.
"At this point in time I don't see that going to a statewide model" is the best thing to do.

Staff writer Kimberly S. Johnson can be reached at 303-954-1088 or

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