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KBTX | Bryan & College Station, TX | News, Weather, Sports

Local Govts, Cable Companies Upset with Bill

By: Toni Harrison
By: Toni Harrison

"The cities in the state of Texas are not 100 percent behind this bill," said Olivia Burnside, City of College Station.

But the bill is sweet music to phone companies. That's because under the law passed by Texas lawmakers, phone companies now have the opportunity to offer cable-like services.

If signed by Governor Perry, the telecommunications bill will open the door for companies, like Verizon and SBC, to secure statewide franchises for cable services, while bypassing local licenses required of TV cable companies.

"It's just one of those erosions of local control and when you say local control, you mean the people that live here," said Burnside.

"It tilts the playing field in their favor because there are certain things they are going to be allowed to do like state franchises that cable companies aren't allowed to do," said Stacey Rugh with Cox Communications.

While law makers argue the intent of the legislation is to give more choice to consumers, cable companies say it’ll only benefit customers hand-picked by the phone companies.

"They have the opportunity to serve high value customers and not serve that they term low value customers," said Rugh.

Local governments and cable providers are unhappy about the new bill, but at this point it is too soon to determine how drastic the long-term affects will be.

"There's another piece to this puzzle and that's federal legislation and we're not sure where that's headed," said Burnside.

Cable companies have been very vocal about their opposition claiming it's affecting other areas of state government.

"It's a little disheartening when the governor and leaders in legislation said special sessions would be called to take care of education and the children of Texas and instead the first bill passed in special session is telecommunications," said Rugh.

Governor Perry has to sign the bill before it becomes a law, but cable companies have promised to file a court challenge if it isn't vetoed.


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