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Iowa governor signs bill to clarify cable franchising

Fri, 04/18/2008 - 8:10am
Mike Robuck

Iowa Governor Chet Culver recently signed a bill, which clarified that cities will collect cable video franchise fees, not counties.

Last year’s cable franchise bill said that municipalities would collect the franchise fees but included counties in its definition of municipalities. Had the bill been enforced, counties would have been able to collect the franchise fees that have traditionally gone to cities and towns.

Thomas P. Graves, EVP of the Iowa Cable and Telecommunication Association, said that while no counties have ever collected the fees, the association wanted the new law clarified.

“This is a minor fix, but an important one,” Graves said. “Cable companies are stepping forward in Iowa and using the state franchise law because it streamlines cable regulation.  It will also certainly facilitate competition in the near future." 

Like a lot of other states, Iowa’s bill that passed last year moved the franchising authority that was previously administered by cities and towns to a statewide authority, which in this case is the Iowa Utilities Board.

The new franchise laws were designed to speed up the franchising process, which in many cases have helped Verizon and AT&T deploy their video services faster than they would have under the previous system.

The new bill also allows incumbent providers to apply for their state franchises ahead of when they are set to expire.

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