Tenn. Eyes New Franchising Bill


A state franchising proposal, which would create a new state commission composed of city and county officials, has passed the Tennessee House utilities, banking and small business committee.

House bill 3959, authored by Rep. Charles Curtiss, D-Sparta, was approved on a 6-2 vote March 4. The bill would create a statewide franchising option desired by AT&T Inc., but with a longer timeline that approved in other states. The current proposal would give the new Tennessee Cable and Video Services Authority 90 days to act on a franchise application. The bill allows for extension of that time period to allow for further investigation of an applicant. 

State franchise blls in other states guarantee action on an application in less than a month.

An applicant would face a 15-member commission, whose members will come from the ranks of the Tennessee Municipal League and the County Services Association. The activities of that board would be funded by application fees. But if an applicant is franchised by the state regulatory authority, it would be granted a 10-year franchise.

The bill now goes to the house commerce committee. The concurrent state senate bill has not been voted on in committee.