Verizon Rings Up N.J. Support

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Seven out of 10 respondents to a Verizon Communications Inc.-commissioned survey said they strongly agree that it should be easier for video providers to enter the marketplace in New Jersey.

The survey results are important for the telco, as New Jersey is the next state in which Verizon wants the legislature to consider franchising reform.

A company spokesman said earlier this month that Verizon lobbyists are in talks with individual legislators to carry a bill that could switch franchising authority to the state level in place of the current policy, which requires separate negotiations with the 526 municipalities served by Verizon in New Jersey. No bill has been formally filed as of yet.

The results of the survey -- executed in May on behalf of the telephone company by Benenson Strategy Group -- were released Tuesday. The survey included responses from 796 adults phoned by the surveyors.

Those surveyed were even more supportive of a state rule change when they were informed by the survey takers that Verizon planned to provide "innovative" television service.

"Updated, streamlined franchising rules will speed more choice and more value for cable-TV services, while providing municipalities with even more revenue," said Dennis Bone, president of Verizon in New Jersey, in a prepared statement.

"This survey quantifies in a dramatic way the overwhelming support New Jerseyans have for choice and competition,” he added.

Verizon has set up a Web site to solicit New Jersey supporters who are interested in attending rallies, handing out literature, calling talk radio or writing their legislators in support of franchising reform.

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