The end of cable television service as we have known it will be debated by the state senate this week. Telephone companies want to provide video and broadband services in competition with existing cable-television services. The collision between the two technologies has kept bills from being passed in previous sessions. But Senator John Griesheimer of Washington is going to try again this year. He says telephone companies want to use phone lines to provide cable service. But cable providers have resisted that new technology. Griesheimer hopes this year he has found some middle ground between one entity that does not want to give up any of its business to a competitor. He describes the negotiations as “very difficult.” His bill puts regulation of telephone company-based video service providers under the Public Service commission but lets communities levy gross receipts taxes on them. Phone companies would not have to serve entire communities, as local ordinances require cable companies to do–and that’s been a sticking point. Another sticking point is that a cable company could break its contract with a city as soon as a phone company comes in with competing service. The cable company at that point also would be regulated by the PSC.. Griesheimer says the legislature is not in the business of protecting one technology from another. He says consumers should benefit with lower bills because of the competition that would be allowed—if a compromise can be struck.A summary of the bill can be found on the Missouri State Senate website:http://www.senate.mo.gov/07info/BTS_Web/Bill.aspx?SessionType=R&BillID=4857
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