WASHINGTON - The U.S. House of Representatives today approved the Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement (COPE) Act (H.R. 5252) sponsored by Reps. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Bobby Rush (D-Ill.). The legislation, also known as the video choice bill, streamlines the cable franchise process by creating a national franchise, with the goal of providing additional consumer choice and competition by enabling new competitors to enter the television market more quickly. The bipartisan measure was approved earlier by the Energy and Commerce committee, 42-12. The subcommittee had approved the measure, 27-4. The following statement should be attributed to Peter Davidson, Verizon senior vice president for federal government relations.
"Consumers won a major victory with tonight's passage of the video choice bill. The size of the bipartisan vote increases the momentum for a similar Senate bill. The benefits of competition - more choice, better services and lower prices - are now within reach this year.
"The Barton-Rush bill updates the franchising process so consumers can enjoy the benefits of video competition more quickly. We urge the Senate to act soon because every year reform is delayed costs Americans more than $8 billion in their cable bills.
"The strong vote against regulation of the Internet suggests the Congress won't go down the road of legislating solutions to problems that don't exist. As the White House said in its policy statement, 'the FCC currently has sufficient authority to address potential abuses in the marketplace. Creating a new legislative framework for regulation in this area is premature.'
"Revolutionary fiber-optic technology is enabling super-fast Internet connections and additional choices, such as a better option to cable TV. We look forward to offering those and other benefits to even more consumers, after Congress updates the laws.
"We congratulate Chairman Barton, Rep. Rush, Chairman Upton, Rep. Wynn, Rep. Blackburn and the majority of the House on their decisive, bipartisan victory for consumers."