Missouri Senate Approves Cable-Franchise-Reform Bill


The Missouri state Senate approved a cable-franchising-reform bill, but without cable-incumbent-supported language that would have protected cable-delivered voice-over-Internet-protocol phone services from state regulation.

The bill, approved by a unanimous vote of the senators in the room, now moves over to the state House, which is not expected to take up the issue for about three weeks, according to Greg Harrison, president of the Missouri Cable Telecommunications Association.

The cable trade group supports the reform bill, but executives are disappointed about issues that were deleted, Harrison said. One deletion included language that would assure that VoIP is exempt from state regulation.

Currently, the Missouri Public Service Commission is pursuing Comcast, asserting that the operator -- which is already offering phone service -- needs a state certificate to operate.

The state authorities asserted that because cable-phone services are not portable, with an identifiable launch point for calls within the state, the service is subject to state rules. The PSC's stance led to a lawsuit over the agency's authority.

If the issue were addressed in a reform bill, it would set regulatory rules for all operators statewide.