Video-Franchise Reform May Be on Bill at Next FCC Meeting

Telcos are priming for possible FCC action on video-franchise reform similar to that in a bill that stalled in Congress over the issue of net neutrality.

Word around Washington Wednesday was that some kind of video franchise reform steps might be on the agenda for a vote at the commission's open meeting Dec. 20.

Parallel to the ultimately unsuccessful congressional push for a national video franchise reform bill, the FCC has had an open proceeding seeking input on ways for the commission to ensure that the local franchising process is not impeding the roll-out of broadband service and resulting in price and service competition to cable.

In a speech earlier this month, Martin telegraphed his desire for the FCC to take several steps to revamp the process, including putting a shot clock on local franchising authorities, a cap on franchise fees, a limit on build-out requirements, and perhaps maintaining rules preventing exclusive programming contracts between cable operators and programmers in which they have an interest.

In effect it would be adopting key telco-backed provisions that were part of the stalled telecommunications-reform bill.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.