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Telcos Lose TV Franchise Waiver Battle

According to the Wall Street Journal, "Two U.S. phone companies lost a major showdown with cable-TV rivals over telecommunications legislation in Texas, setting a precedent that is likely to slow their efforts to roll out television service across the country. SBC and Verizon had lobbied aggressively to win new rules in Texas that would help them accelerate the rollout of TV service to millions of households. State legislators over the weekend failed to act on a bill allowing phone companies to seek statewide -- instead of local -- approval to offer TV programming. The Texas Legislature has ended its session, and phone companies now face the lengthy and expensive process of gaining permission to offer TV from hundreds of individual municipalities. Phone companies are hoping to get similar legislation passed in numerous states, many of which are likely to look at the Texas decision as a model. The phone companies' loss gives cable companies a head start in the race to offer the most attractive packages of phone, TV and high-speed Internet service. The unusual defeat by the two Bells, in SBC's home state, now increases the stakes on Capitol Hill, where phone companies have been advocating a major overhaul to the country's telecommunications laws."

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