Illinois Gov. Signs Franchise Law


Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a law that assigns franchising authority to the state’s Commerce Commission.

The governor said the bill, SB678, will provide consumers with more providers while requiring incumbent operators to provide more reliable, on-time service.

In addition to shifting franchising authority to state officials, the bill introduces a number of new customer-service rules, such as the implementation of standards for installation, repair, telephone response time, billing, collections and services for the disabled.

Some of the specific rules: Consumers must have 30 days written warning before a change in rates, and bills must give consumers 28 days before the payment is due.

If a consumer receives notice of a pending disconnection, a company must wait 21 days before acting on that disconnection. If a customer cancels service, that order must be carried out within seven days. 

Incumbent providers may apply for state licensing, but they must give their current local franchisors 180 days' notice and must pay off existing public, educational and government channel -upport obligations, according to the bill.

While the transfer of state authority took effect when the governor signed the bill July 3, implementation of service-quality standards for incumbents will not begin until Jan. 1.

Illinois is the 21st state to approve statewide regulation of cable franchising.