Iowa Bill Lets Cities Collect Cable Franchising Fees


Cable operators in Iowa successfully promoted clean-up legislation to 2007's state franchising reform bill, which clarifies that cities, not counties, can collect franchise fees.

The bill, which moved franchising authority out of the hands of local governments in order to speed market entry for new competitors, had defined municipalities to include counties, meaning those governments could have laid claim to franchise fees for the first time, according to Tom Graves, executive vice president of the Iowa Cable and Telecommunications Association.

The definition has been altered to specify that cities get the franchise fees paid by all providers.

The 2007 bill also prevented incumbents from applying for state oversight until their local franchises expired. But because the Iowa Utilities Board, which now approves cable franchises, has 15 days to act on an application that meant that incumbents would be without a valid franchise until the state board acted.

That would put those companies out of compliance with a different state law that requires a telecommunications provider have an active franchise in order to deliver services.That was fixed when an amendment was accepted to allow operators to apply for state franchising in advance of their expiration dates.

The bill fix has been signed by Gov.Chet Culver.