Louisiana House Passes Franchise Reform

The Louisiana House of Representatives last week passed a bill to create a statewide franchising process. The bill would allow telephone companies such as BellSouth, as well as other service providers aiming to provide multichannel cable TV-like services, to bypass individual negotiations with each local town. Unlike many other state franchise reform bills, Louisiana allows local sub-divisions to set terms for the franchise fee (usually a percentage of revenues), but caps the rate at five percent. Terms for franchise fees cannot be higher than those for incumbent cable companies either. Local franchise agreements currently in place will be allowed to run their term. Statewide franchisees also will not have specific buildout requirements. More information and an account of the debate on the bill by the Louisiana House Energy and Commerce Committee can be found here.