Bill Would Allow Telecomm Businesses To Compete with Cable Television
TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Joseph V. Doria, Jr., which would amend the State’s Cable Television Act to allow telecomm companies and public utilities that provide for the transmission of video programming to compete in the television service market was approved by the Senate Economic Growth Committee today by a vote of 4-0.
“Under the current regulatory structure, cable companies do not face the sort of competition that is good for consumers, because for so long, they were the only show in town with the technology to provide high quality television service,” said Senator Doria, D-Hudson. “However, recent advances in the transmission of data through telecommunications lines has made it possible for new players to enter the industry. We need to put mechanisms in place to encourage competition, and allow the residents of New Jersey to finally have a say in terms of their television service provider.”
The bill, S-192, would allow telecommunications companies or public utilities providing television service to apply for systemwide franchise agreements to offer services throughout the State. The bill would require television service providers to have “wire centers” or data-line transfer stations, in every county seat within 3 years of approval of a systemwide franchise, as well as any municipality with a population density of 7,111 people per square mile. Service would gradually expand out from the initial wire centers, until the point where New Jersey residents would be able to choose between local cable providers and an alternate course for television services.
“Verizon and other major telecomm companies are ready and waiting to enter the market, and we just need to adjust the old laws regarding cable television to give them access through the bureaucracy,” said Senator Doria. “Currently, cable choice is hampered by an antiquated regulatory system that thwarts innovative thinking. However, with new and improved technology, we will bring the free market trade to the television services industry and choose the best television service carrier for our families.”
Senator Doria noted that cable television reform would set into motion a courtship that would end up lowering skyrocketing cable rates, increasing service, and make television service providers vie for contracts with local customers.
“This really is a culture change,” said Senator Doria. “For so long, we’ve just been used to the geographic requirement imposed on us by the cable infrastructure, but all of that is about to come to an end. Now, contracts will go to the cheapest companies providing the best service. May the best business entity win.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.