Virginia, Indiana expand TV competition

Members of the Virginia legislature have passed a bill that would allow telephone companies to get a statewide license to sell television programming rather than applying for local franchises across the state.

If signed by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, the legislation would make Virginia the second state after Texas to ease competition for new competitors to traditional cable operators.

Passed last week, the law would be a big win for Verizon Communications in its effort to launch subscription TV service over the high-speed fiber-optic network the phone company is installing. Verizon is the dominant provider of local phone service in Virginia.

In Indiana, the legislature passed a comprehensive bill to deregulate the state’s telecommunications market. It has been sent to Gov. Mitch Daniels, who said he planned to sign it.

The legislation would establish a statewide video-franchising authority and strip state regulators of their power to set prices and service standards for telephone service providers. Indiana is poised to become the second state to make such modifications on video franchising in the past year.

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