Sebelius signs cable TV bill into law (1 Viewer)

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Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius signed a bill into law Friday that paves the way for AT&T Inc. to roll out a paid video product in competition with cable companies.

The bill allows new video providers not already operating in the state to get a statewide franchise instead of by local market.

That provision quickens the pace by which AT&T, which is giving its local phone network a multibillion-dollar facelift nationwide, can bring cable television to its customers.

"The goal is to expand competition and lower prices for consumers," Sebelius said in a written release.

Without the bill, AT&T would have had to strike franchise agreements with each local community, a process that could have taken as long as two years, David Kerr, president of AT&T-Kansas, said Friday. Within the next month, AT&T will say more specifically when it will roll out the service, Kerr said.

"We are assessing it as we speak," he said.

AT&T already has rolled out video service in its headquarters city, San Antonio, after Texas passed a similar bill last year.

Despite the victory in Kansas, a similar bill looks headed for the scrap heap in Missouri after heavy cable opposition.

"It is languishing to say the best about it," AT&T spokesman Kerry Hibbs said. "We just couldn't get legislators to support it."

The Kansas Cable Telecommunications Association decided not to oppose the measure after an amendment was inserted that allowed cable companies to renegotiate their local franchises or seek a statewide franchise after AT&T enters their market.

The Kansas Corporation Commission will issue the statewide franchises. Holders of state-issued video service authorization won't be required to get a separate franchise from municipalities or other local bodies.

Published April 7, 2006 by the Kansas City Business Journal

http://biz.yahoo.com/bizj/060407/1270815.html?.v=2
 

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