Three Cheers for the Volunteer State!

[ Yesterday the push for establishing statewide video franchising in Tennessee failed – at least for the 2007 legislative session.  Here are excerpts from some of the major press accounts, and links to a few of the others. The credit seems mostly due to the individual and collective work of local municipal officials.  Thanks to ACM members Frank Bluestein (Germantown), Alan Bozeman (Murfreesboro), Elliott Mitchell (Nashville), and Dave Vogel (Knoxville) for their good work helping to man the barricades and repel the assault.  rm ]

AT&T bill for cable franchising delayed until ’08, lawmakers say
by John Rodgers
Nashville City Paper
05/24/07

AT&T-backed legislation to allow the telecom to get a statewide television franchise to start competing against cable companies will be delayed until 2008, key lawmakers said Wednesday.  Rep. Steve McDaniel (R-Parkers Crossroads), the lead House sponsor of the measure, told The City Paper he was going to take the AT&T bill “off notice” today until next year.   —>
http://www.nashvillecitypaper.com/index.cfm?section_id=9&screen=news&news_id=56332
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Lethal injection: Dose of suspicion helped kill AT&T bill
by Milt Capps
Nashville Post
05/24/07

Barring a resurrection, the burial of video-reform legislation AT&T sought is expected to happen later today when the bill probably will be taken off notice and disappear from the calendars of the 105th General Assembly.

The cause of death is hard to isolate. Time for heroic measures ran out. Alliances were badly frayed. In the end, with each side accusing the other of disinformation, the final throes were not pretty.  Fatigued AT&T Spokesman Ted Wagnon told NashvillePost.com late yesterday he could say little more than “I’ve asked myself a dozen times today” what could have been done to keep the bill alive.

Stacey Briggs, the executive director of the Tennessee Cable Telecommunications Association, said late yesterday, “This is the beginning of many, many battles…with a brand new competitor.” —>
http://www.nashvillepost.com/news/2007/5/24/lethal_injection_dose_of_suspicion_helped_kill_att_bill
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Franchise-Reform Bill Withdrawn in Tennessee
by Linda Haugsted
Multichannel News
5/24/07

Citing opposition from local governments, the sponsor of a Tennessee bill to reform cable franchising is withdrawing the legislation.  The bill could be resubmitted next year, but sponsor Rep. Steve McDaniel (R-Parkers Crossroads) told AP he wouldn’t push the issue of reform unless he sensed a “change of attitude” by city and local officials who fought the bill. Cable incumbents had formed a coalition with the local governments to fight the bill.

The bill appeared to be moving forward Wednesday, as it was the subject of a House Commerce Committee debate, but representatives there expressed grave concerns about the bill, noting that the text had changed substantially from its introduction.

Rep. Ulysees Jones (D-Memphis) said he was troubled by the lack of build-out for AT&T, the major backer of the bill; the lack of consumer protection in the bill; and the fact that the legislation imposed operating guidelines on existing cable companies.   —>
http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6446252.html
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Franchising Bill Pulled In Tennessee
by Michael Martinez
National Journal
05/24/07

The sponsor of a measure to overhaul Tennessee’s cable rules to allow for statewide video franchises has decided to withdraw the bill.   —>
http://www.njtelecomupdate.com/2007/05/franchising_bill_pulled_in_ten.html
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Cable bill dead for the year
Commercial Appeal
05/23/07

Telecommunications giant AT&T’s months-long efforts to win legislative approval of a bill to streamline its entry into Tennessee’s cable television market is dead for the year.   —>
http://www.commercialappeal.com/mca/midsouth_news/article/0,1426,MCA_1497_5551785,00.html
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Sponsor of ‘Competitive Cable’ bill to withdraw it
by Beth Rucker (AP)
Knoxville News Sentinel
05/24/07

A bill that would have changed the way telecommunications companies could apply for cable franchises in Tennessee will be withdrawn, the measure’s sponsors said Wednesday.

AT&T was pushing the “Competitive Cable and Video Services Act” to allow itself and others to apply for cable franchises at the state level, rather than negotiating with individual local governments across the state. The legislation had become the state’s most expensive lobbying effort of the year.   —>
http://www.knoxnews.com/kns/business/article/0,1406,KNS_376_5552054,00.html
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AT&T puts digital video plans on hold
Legislator withdraws hotly debated bill
by Naomi Snyder
The Tennessean
05/25/07

AT&T, the state’s largest phone company, has backed off plans to roll out a new digital video service that would have competed with traditional cable television in more than 70 cities across Tennessee.

The telecommunications giant said Thursday it was putting its plans on hold after a lawmaker said he was withdrawing a bill that would have let AT&T and others apply for cable franchises at the state level, rather than negotiate with local governments across the state.   —>
http://www.dicksonherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070525/BUSINESS01/705250420
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Littlefield Welcomes AT&T To Compete For Chattanooga Cable Business
The Chatanoogan
05/24/07

Mayor Ron Littlefield said Thursday he is inviting AT&T officials to meet with city officials “to develop and implement a cable franchise agreement to give competition and choice to Chattanoogans.”  He noted that the proposed Competitive Cable and Video Services Act of 2007 (Senate Bill 1933 and House Bill 1421) sought by AT&T has been tabled until the next legislative year.

Mayor Littlefield said, “The city of Chattanooga has always welcomed and encouraged competition within the realm of cable service providers and all other avenues of business.”   —>
http://www.chattanoogan.com/articles/article_107892.asp
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Chalk one up for the cable guys
MySA.com (San Antonio, TX)
05/24/07

AT&T’s had a string of success in getting state legislatures to eliminate franchise hurdles that stand in the way of its U-verse rollout. It started in Texas a couple years ago, and the company has lobbied for and won passage of similar bills in other states since then.

But now it looks like Tennessee lawmakers could be breaking the winning streak. The legislature this week put the brakes on a bill that many had expected to pass.  As in other states, the cable industry and local government organizations lobbied hard against the franchise bill. Only this time they won.

It should be interesting to see if this is just a single hiccup in AT&T’s legislative agenda, or whether the cable guys are able to win victories in other states.
http://blogs.mysanantonio.com/weblogs/sbc/archives/2007/05/chalk_one_up_fo_1.html
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AT&T cable bill to be withdrawn
by R. Neal
KnoxViews

http://www.knoxviews.com/node/4632
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Cable Bill Removed From Legislature, For Now
by Joe Powell
Cup of Joe Powell

http://cupofjoepowell.blogspot.com/2007/05/cable-bill-removed-from-legislature-for.html
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Cable’s Big Tenn. Victory
by Shirley Brady
Cable 360

http://www.cable360.net/programming/shows/23653.html

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AT&T Franchise Bill Withdrawn
Tennessee Politics Blog
    http://www.tnpoliticsblog.com/2007/05/att_franchise_bill_withdrawn.php
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Dir., Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
http://ourchannels.org

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