McSlarrow Likely to Testify on Stevens Bill

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National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Kyle McSlarrow is expected to testify Thursday before the Senate Commerce Committee on legislation partly designed to streamline local franchising of new cable companies, informed sources said Monday.

The hearing will be the first of two on a bill (S. 2686) Senate Commerce Committee chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) introduced May 1. Stevens is planning a second hearing May 25, followed by a June 8 committee vote.

A comparable House bill cleared the Energy and Commerce Committee in late April, but a request to review it by the Judiciary Committee has been delayed until full House consideration.

In the Stevens bill, a new cable company could expect to begin building a cable system after 30 days based on franchising procedures established by the Federal Communications Commission. An incumbent cable operator would be afforded the same opportunity if it has expired franchises or has received notice that a new cable company planned to enter the same local market.

The 135-page Senate bill is broad in scope. On the controversial issue of network neutrality, the bill would require the Federal Communications Commission to monitor the Internet market and file annual reports with Congress for five years. If the FCC were to see problems, it would be required to make recommendations for "appropriate enforcement mechanisms."

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