While it lacks the power to create a national franchising process, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) did its bit in December for competition and choice in cable and video services by voting to institute a 90-day “shot clock” for local approval of franchise applications. The agency also sharply curtailed local authorities’ ability to demand from franchise applicants build-out requirements and other costly concessions that often do not pertain to service.
The ruling means cable competitors, particularly phone companies that have begun rolling out fiber and IP-based video services in the past year, can gain approval to begin construction in more markets more quickly. The FCC ruling incorporates provisions found in most franchise reform bills that have been enacted or introduced across the country, taking the nation as a whole that much closer to greater cable and broadband competition.
— Steven Titch