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House subcommittee action brings cable relief closer.

Our nation's cities and towns are one step closer to legislative relief from unbrindled rate increases and poor customer service by the cable industry. On Thursday, the House Telecommunications and Finance Subcommittee approved a substitute version of the Subcommittee cable draft, submitted by Chairman Edward Markey (D-MA). The measure passed by a 17-7 vote.

Approved by the Subcommittee were NLC-sponsored amendments allowing franchising authorities to: strengthen customer service standards, approve use of PEG channels, and receive information regarding the sale of systems. The FCC would also be required, under the amendments, to compile a statistical report on average rates and fees for equipment in areas with competition and without, so that franchise authorities may compare the rates in their area.

NLC, along with other local government groups, worked with Congressmen Rick Boucher (D-Va.), Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), to introduce the series of amendments which strengthened the Markey substitute on behalf of cities.

According to Markey, the substitute incorporated a number of changes to the original subcommittee print, "that reflect concerns expressed by several Subcommittee members over the past week." The markup had been postponed all of last week while negotiations were being hammered out.

The "Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992" will now move to the full Energy and Commerce Committee for debate and markup. Congressman Cooper has announced his intention to offer an NLC-supported amendment at the full committee level that would allow for a more competitive franchise renewal process. The cable industry is vehemently opposed to this amendment and will be vigorously lobbying against this.

Elected officials are urged to contact their Representatives and request their support for the Cooper competitive renewal amendment, and to oppose any effort to weaken the Committee bill. For more information call Anna Ferrera in the Centr for Policy and Federal Relations at (202) 626-3020.
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Title Annotation:cable television
Author:Ferrera, Anna Pulido
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Apr 13, 1992
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