Calif. Franchise Bill Becomes Law


California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a state franchising bill into law late last week, stating that the bill will "add another significant player into the cable-television marketplace and help to speed the spread of new and innovative technologies across the state.”

New entrants will now apply for a single statewide franchise, to be administered by the state Public Utilities Commission. Schwarzenegger signed the legislation Sept. 29.

Incumbent cable operators will be able to apply for a state franchise, but after the PUC has had up to two years to set up a process. An incumbent filing may be triggered when a competitor announces that it will begin serving a local cable franchise area.

Telephone companies lauded the governor's action, saying that statewide franchising will accelerate competition.

Since one competitor, Verizon Communications, is deploying fiber-to-the-home architecture to deliver its FiOS TV service, the bill will give that company the legislative certainty it needs to commit hundreds of millions of dollars in investment in its fiber deployment, according to Tim McCallion, Verizon’s West-region president.