WI: Video Franchise Vote May Be Month Away

Posted on March 30, 2007 - 9:48am.

From: Wheeler News Service

Wisconsin Video Franchise Vote May Be Month Away

March 28, 2007

A bill to let phone companies offer cable-type TV and do away with locally-negotiated service and rate contracts will come up for a state Assembly vote in about a month. That’s what Speaker Mike Huebsch said after a nine-hour public hearing Tuesday.

One of the bill’s chief sponsors, Rep. Phil Montgomery, R-Green Bay, says it will create more competition and force all cable providers to offer better service.

By eliminating franchise agreements with local communities, Montgomery said prospective outlets would only have to deal with the state government, thus letting more firms offer their products.

But many had their doubts. Kids in Sun Prairie said their children’s public access channel would go away.

Communities said it would take away the franchise revenue that pays for such local programming.

Janet Jenkins, state consumer official, says it would do away with a host of protections that require things like service deadlines and credits when the cable is off for four hours or more.

But AT&T, which has lobbied hard to be allowed into the business, said prices go down and service goes up everywhere it goes.

And it would take years for AT&T to spread its service statewide if the local negotiating mandates stay.

( categories: State Franchises | WISCONSIN )