S.D. Cable-Competition Bill to Senate

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A bill that would boost cable competition in South Dakota was sent to the Senate floor, AP reported.

The bill (HB1160) -- which was passed by the House last week -- would let local officials grant more than one cable-TV franchise within city borders and would prohibit cities from setting substantially different conditions for competing cable firms, according to AP.

Bill Heaston, a lawyer for Sioux Falls-based PrairieWave Communications, told AP that allowing a company to monopolize cable service for years makes competition from newcomers nearly impossible, adding, “It's very difficult for a company to come into that kind of market. Competition among cable companies lowers prices for customers.”

But Midcontinent Communications vice president of communications Tom Simmons countered by saying that the bill is unnecessary because state law already lets cable firms compete, AP reported.

Simmons told AP, “I can't understand how this is pro-competition. This bill is irrelevant.” And Midcontinent vice chairman and principal owner Joe Floyd added, “Let the cities do their own thing,” in urging that local governments should regulate cable, and not the state.

Sen. Lee Schoenbeck (R-Watertown) told AP that even though he voted for the bill, he is still unsure whether it will foster competition, saying, “There's a lot of stuff that needs to be answered about this bill yet.”

The Commerce Committee voted 5-2 to send the bill to the full Senate, according to AP.

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