New Jersey Approves Cable Franchise Reform

New Jersey became the eighth state to pass a law authorizing statewide video franchising last Friday, following quick approval from the state legislature. New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine (D) signed legislation Aug. 4 that will allow new entrants to seek immediate approval to offer cable TV and multichannel services anywhere in the state. Without the law, new entrants, which are predominantly telephone companies seeking to provide video over their own networks, would have had to negotiate individually with some 566 municipalities. Corzine was an early supporter of the bill, which he said would increase cable-TV competition and lower cable rates by making it easier for other companies to enter the market. In response to concerns that the phone companies would chose to service only densely populated areas, the law authorizes the state Public Advocate to monitor build-out. The Board of Public Utilities also will issue regulations to enhance the state’s ability to review the expansion of new franchises. Philadelphia Business Journal coverage here. New York Times coverage here.