THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - The California Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications, under the leadership of Sen. Martha Escutia, on Thursday approved Assembly Bill 2987, which would overhaul the state's outdated cable franchising process and pave the way for new competitors such as Verizon to offer consumers a choice in video programming, better technology and lower prices. At the same time, the bill, authored by Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and Assemblymember Lloyd Levine, chair of the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee, guarantees that local communities will continue to receive franchise fees consistent with those paid by incumbent cable companies. The bill has already received 77-0 approval in the Assembly. The following statement should be attributed to Verizon West Region President Tim McCallion:
"We applaud the leadership of Chairwoman Martha Escutia and her colleagues on the Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee. Their vote in favor of video franchise reform will help to bring the benefits of choice and competition to California's consumers. Cable prices have risen 86 percent over the past 10 years, according to the FCC; yet in markets in which Verizon initially launched its fiber-optic-based FiOS TV service, Bank of America found cable prices have dropped between 28 and 42 percent.
"Verizon has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in its new fiber-optic network in California, creating over 1,000 new jobs, but plans to expand the availability of FiOS TV have been delayed by inefficient local franchise negotiations that have lasted up to a year or more in some communities. The current franchising system is broken and AB2987 is the solution."