RE: S-2664 “Market Competition and Consumer Choice Act” eliminates municipal benefits related to telephone and cable franchises
Today the Senate Economic Growth Committee released S-2664 which would fundamentally alter the regulation of telephone and cable service. This bill will now be heard as A-3766 Thursday at 2:00PM by the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee.
The League’s preliminary analysis indicates this bill would among other things:
- eliminate the requirement that cable companies provide municipalities with access to public, educational and government (PEG) channels;
- eliminate the requirement that cable companies provide basic service and internet to municipal buildings and schools at no charge;
- eliminate the requirement that cable companies provide equipment and training for access users; and
- it would reduce the franchise fee payable by certain cable companies that have converted from a traditional franchise to a system-wide franchise.
While some of these services and benefits have been required under traditional franchises and the systemwide franchise, such requirements would no longer exist upon passage of S-2664. The League presented these concerns to the Senate Committee and asked the committee to postpone action pending review of a Fiscal Note on the impact of the bill. Other groups testified that competition in the market place would resolve these issues.
We urge you to bring this to the attention of your local access station and to consider testifying at the meeting of the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee 2:00 PM Thursday Committee Room 13, 4th Floor, State House Annex, Trenton. Because this bill is on the fast track for consideration, we also urge you to contact your Legislators in the Assembly and Senate with your concerns.
If you have questions or plan to testify at the Thursday Assembly Committee hearing, please contact Michael Darcy MDarcy@njslom.com or extension 116.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr. Brian Wahler, Mayor, Piscataway
Executive Director Chair, NJLM Telecommunications Task Force