Tom Humphrey files this report. There was some drama involving e-mails, high-profile lobbyists, and an exchange between an AT&T lobbyist and Sen. Tim Burchett (R-Knoxville), who objected to being called an "obstructionist." He voted against the bill in the committee.
One amendment would establish a new cable control board with representatives from local governments in addition to state officials. The original proposal would have put cable franchises under control of the Tennessee Regulatory Agency.
The bill cleared the committee by a vote of 6-3. Voting for the bill were Senators Beavers, Bunch, Crutchfield, Southerland, Stanley, and Wilder. Voting against were Senators Burchett, Burks, and Tate.
The House Commerce Committee deferred action again. It has previously cleared the House Utilities, Banking, and Small Business sub-committee.
The KNS has another editorial today with what sounds like a lukewarm endorsement of the AT&T proposal in order to promote more broadband access. We agree with the KNS on expanding broadband access. We wonder if this bill will actually do that (see links below for background).
For example, we live in a relatively new development. We have been begging BellSouth, now AT&T, for DSL service for more than three years and still can't get it. We are inside the city limits with all new infrastructure and utilities. We are exactly the kind of neighborhood where you would expect AT&T to "cherry pick".
And in fact they have been invited by the City to submit a proposal for their new cable/broadband service, but as far as we know they have not responded. They could move into our area with their service any time they want, with or without a statewide franchise, but they won't. They won't even provide basic DSL.
How exactly does this increase competition again?
My prediction: This bill will eventually pass this time around because of the intense lobbying effort and the massive "voter education" campaign that has convinced everyone that "competition" is good and will benefit them.
UPDATE: Joe Powell has more.
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