New Jersey TV franchise bill near law

Legislation that would allow Verizon Communications to sell television service throughout New Jersey is expected to soon be law.

Last week, the New Jersey Senate passed the bill, and it is awaiting the signature of Gov. Jon Corzine, who is expected to approve it.

The law will allow Verizon to apply for a statewide franchise with the Public Utilities Board instead of having to go to each of the 526 municipalities it serves and negotiate separate agreements to sell TV service. It will also allow the telco to compete directly with New Jersey's largest TV providers, Comcast and Cablevision Systems.

Verizon has been installing fiber-optic cable throughout New Jersey in order to deliver high-speed Internet and TV services. The company has 2.5 million telephone customers in the state.