Hearings before the Senate Commerce Committee focused on local franchise agreements, with testimony from Cablevision Systems COO Tom Rutledge pointing out that while telcos such as AT&T and Verizon have been asking for exemptions, over the past three years Cablevision has renewed and renegotiated 100 franchises, about one-fourth of its total. Rutledge also noted that New York has streamlined the process for new entrants and that Connecticut also has a statewide regime. This debate is heating up, with the NCTA having launched last week a new Web site (http://www.phoneybaloney.net) that aims to show who is behind the groups sponsoring telephone-supported video franchising legislation. The point behind the Rutledge testimony and the NCTA’s clever site is not so much that getting these agreements is easy, but rather that they are do-able. As for actual relations between cable operators and franchise authorities, our ears are still ringing from the letters we generated last year following a profile of Jonathan Kramer, a lawyer very knowledgeable of cable technology who often represents the franchise side of the fence. For responses, see http://www.ct-magazine.com/archives/pipeline/pipe101105.html#2. Thus this week’s question: How are relations today between cable and the franchising authorities?

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