FCC adopts rules to streamline local franchising

The FCC adopted a measure Dec. 20 designed to remove obstacles some local franchising authorities erect in granting cable franchises to new competitors.

The new rule are intended to hasten the process by establish a 90-day “shot clock” for granting cable competitors, like telecommunications companies offering IP-based video services, a new franchise if they have secured necessary rights of way.

According to the commission, some LFAs are making unreasonable demands on companies seeking a competitive franchise or are failing to take action on requests for new franchises in a timely fashion.

FCC chairman Kevin Martin said the rules will further his efforts to promote policies that expand the reach of broadband Internet service throughout the country. Deployment of broadband “is intrinsically linked to the ability to offer video to consumers,” he said.

Both Democrats on the commission, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, voted against the new rules. Adelstein questioned whether the commission had the authority to establish the rules, and Copps contended the commission’s study of the local franchising process was not detailed enough to demonstrate that LFAs were impeding competition.

The FCC also adopted a Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making seeking comments on how its new rules should affect existing franchisees. The commission has tentatively concluded that the new rules should apply to existing franchise holders at the time their franchise is renewed.

For more information, visit: www.fcc.gov.