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FCC Perspective on Video Franchises

With the goal of spurring competition with cable companies and accelerating broadband rollouts, the FCC initiated its rulemaking process to address the issue of local franchising for video services.

The FCC has tentatively concluded that the Communications Act prohibits local authorities from refusing to award a franchise, and that it regulates a broader range of behaviors. The FCC believes this legislation empowers it "to take steps appropriate to ensure that the local franchising process does not serve as an unreasonable barrier to entry for competitive cable operators."

The FCC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking raises a range of questions, including:

* Are local franchising authorities unreasonably refusing to grant competitive franchises?
* What problems have cable incumbents encountered with LFAs, including how best the Commission can ensure that the local franchising process is not inhibiting the ability of incumbent cable operators to invest in broadband services?
* The Notice seeks comment on whether the Commission has authority to establish a minimum amount of time for potential competitors with existing facilities to build out their networks beyond their current service territories. It also seeks comments that address what would constitute a reasonable minimum timeframe.
* Finally, the Notice asks whether the Commission should address actions at the state level, to the extent that it finds such actions create unreasonable barriers to entry for potential competitors.

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