Friday, January 19, 2007

BellSouth/AT&T Merger Simplified

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

John: The FCC recently made a ruling about municipalities, and I'm not sure I've gotten this correct, about municipalites have to allow (?) other providers to use their rights of ways. Do you know what they are talking about?

Tim

John said...

Tim,

The FCC in mid-December issued a proposed rule that would mandate a 90 day window for local communities to vote up or down on newly proposed video franchises. I haven't seen the rules and they weren't available when the proposed rules were publicized. (Odd!) So no one knows what they really are.

This would not, as I currently understand it, force municipalities to accept what a Cox or BellSouth might suggest. (But it might...who knows about the FCC these days.)

But, in any event any proposed rule-making on this subject will meet legal challenges. The Cablecos will sue because they aren't included in the deal and would suffer from an "unlevel playing field" established by federal fiat. Municipalities will sue saying that the FCC doesn't have the power to make law. They might have a point since this was a feature of the obnoxious bill in the last session. That was voted down by the people's representatives. (A committee chair, upon hearing what the FCC planned to do immediately said he'd call hearings.)

Nobody is sure what will happen, if a rule will actually be promulgated, if it will be enforceable if it is, and whether it will help anyone in any case.

That dispute may be what you are thinking of. I'm not aware of anything else.

You know doubt can guess my position: the feds have no business telling local communities what they can do with their own property. Even less should they be interfering with the negotiation process.