Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Cable Industry Affirms the Importance of Local Franchise Agreements

Local governments should maintain their control over how and where video services are provided, said Karen Alexander, President of the New Jersey Cable Telecommunications Association (NJCTA), speaking before the New Jersey League of Municipalities. Alexander warned that legislation being proposed by Verizon would deny local oversight and make it impossible for municipal officials to protect public safety and local aesthetics -- contrary to the important principle of home rule and need for local government to manage activities in neighborhood streets and rights of way. She also warned that Verizon might favor the wealthiest areas of the state for its cable television service instead of providing service to all areas without regard to income.

"Social and legal obligations to provide non-discriminatory access to all New Jersey consumers must be met by all cable television providers. Otherwise, new services will be available only to the few, most fortunate among us." She added, "Laws governing competition must be fair to all -- consumers and providers, said Alexander.

Responding to Verizon's claim that local franchising will delay competition, Alexander remarked: "Vibrant competition in the video services marketplace is already occurring in New Jersey as evidenced by the rapid growth of satellite providers, which in some cases are partnering with Verizon to deliver service."

NJCTA is a voluntary trade association of companies that provide cable television and advanced telecommunications service to nearly 2.5 million New Jersey customers. NJCTA members include: Comcast, Cablevision, Time Warner, Service Electric Cable TV of NJ and U.S. Cable of Paramus-Hillsdale.

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