Illinois’ Turn for Franchise-Reform Bill

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A franchise-reform bill was introduced in Illinois that, in addition to allowing statewide authorization for newcomers, would allow overbuilders to drop local agreements in favor of statewide franchises.

As currently written, the bill would hold only incumbent cable operators to current franchises until their statutory end dates. As written, the exemption in HB1500 would appear to benefit the second operator to market, such as RCN in Chicago, and providers with even newer local agreements, such as AT&T, which negotiated a local pact with North Chicago, Ill.

The bill may also mark trouble for incumbent operators' exclusivity agreements with multiple-dwelling units. The bill states that landlords or property owners can't bar access to new service providers, nor ask video providers to pay for access above and beyond "just compensation" for the impact to a property for the installation of infrastructure.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. James Brosnahan (D-Oaklawn), chairman of his chamber's Telecommunications Committee, the expected initial destination for the bill.

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