D.C. Council Gives FiOS TV Green Light

The Washington, D.C. city council approved a 15-year cable franchise with Verizon Communications, which expects to start offering its FiOS TV service to residents starting in 2009 in competition with Comcast.

The Council of the District of Columbia on Tuesday passed legislation granting Verizon the cable franchise unanimously (with one abstention). The legislation must be approved by Mayor Adrian Fenty.

Under the terms of the franchise, Verizon will make FiOS TV available throughout D.C. over the next nine years.

“The D.C. Council today has taken a bold step forward for residents who deserve more choice in who provides their pay-TV service,” William Roberts, Verizon regional president for Maryland and Washington, D.C., said in a statement.

According to Verizon, the franchise—as previously negotiated with the District of Columbia Office of Cable Television—commits to nine public, educational and government channels, with the possibility of adding five more; support for those channels in the form of a 3% fee on gross revenues, and an "extensive and appropriate set of customer service provisions."