A bill that allows telephone companies to get into the cable TV business is on Governor Blunt’s desk without a provision supporters touted as a way to bring high-tech to rural Missouri. Rep. Joe Aull (D-Marshall) has attempted to put back in a provision that would charge satellite providers a five percent franchise fee to fund technology grants toward rural economic development. Aull says rural Missouri is falling behind the more populated areas and needs to boost to stay competitive economically.
Cable companies pay a five percent franchise fee and the cable industry pushed for the measure. The Senate sponsor stripped it from the bill.
Rep. Nathan Cooper (R-Cape Girardeau) says the fee would just get passed along to consumers. Cooper claims it would amount to a tax on those who can least afford it.
The last ditch effort to restore the provision has failed and the bill, SB 284 , has gone to the governor without it.