Saturday, July 14, 2007

Video Franchise Disaster in North Carolina

A weekly newspaper in North Carolina's Research Triangle, The Independent, has one of those rare, acerbic, factually rich explorations of a significant topic that you only seem to find in alternative weeklies.

The reason you're seeing it here is that the column's point of departure is North Carolina's "Video Service Competition Act"—a phone company sponsored bill that moved control of cable franchise to the state level and thereby removing local control over fees, PEG channel support, and consumer protection. North Carolina's legislature passed it last year, just as Louisiana's did, in the name of encouraging competition. But North Carolina's governor signed the bill while Blanco, citing concerns over local control and damaging municipalities' income, vetoed the bill.

On the basis of North Carolina's evidence, Blanco was right.

The History:
Though the legislation promised competition and new investment, in fact no new competition has emerged. Neither Verizon nor AT&T have actually launched any new services in North Carolina and they don't have any firm plans to do so. No new technology has appeared. Prices have not fallen. Hmmn.

Though they assured municipalities that they'd see no drop in income in fact the state has collected only 62% of what the municipalities had been taking in. Ooops.

Though local PEG channels, like our AOC, were promised a secure share from the state it turns out that the state only budgeted for 80 channels—and 300 applied. Ooops.

The Kicker:
North Carolina is now being asked by the telecomm companies to pass the "Local Government Fair Competition Act." It's a law like Louisiana's law that imposes unfair constraints on local governments and makes it virtually impossible for a small community to make the decision to do so. The author of this piece suggests, on the basis of the outcome of last year's disaster, that they not do so. So has Lafayette Pro Fiber. Emphatically.

Give the story a read; there are some "rich" details.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is harm North Carolina's legislature passed it last year, just as Louisiana's did, in the name of encouraging competition for the people.
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