California Moves Closer to Real Video Choice as State Legislature Sends TV Franchising Reform to Governor

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - True choice for cable television could soon be a reality for Californians, after both houses of the Legislature overwhelmingly approved progressive franchising-reform legislation.

Assembly Bill 2987 received a 64-5 vote from the state Assembly Thursday night, following a 33-4 vote in the Senate late Wednesday. The bill now goes to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for his signature by Sept. 30.

"This progressive legislation will be a catalyst for producing more video competition and broadband innovation in California," said Verizon West Region President Tim McCallion. "The legislation will enable Verizon to offer its new TV service more quickly to more communities by removing outdated barriers that slowed down video competition."

Verizon has invested hundreds of millions of dollars and hired more than 1,000 new employees to build the state's largest all-fiber-optic network. The company already offers its FiOS TV service in several Southern California cities.

The company plans to accelerate the pace of its fiber network construction once the legislation becomes law, and to deliver the fastest broadband and best video service in many more communities across the state.

The legislation, known as the Digital Infrastructure and Video Choice Act, overhauls the state's outdated cable-franchising process and paves the way for new competitors such as Verizon to offer consumers a choice in video programming, better technology and increased value in a highly dynamic marketplace.

The bill was authored by Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and Assemblymember Lloyd Levine, chair of the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee. It was supported in the state Senate by Senate Utilities, Energy and Communications Chair Martha Escutia and Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Kevin Murray.

Verizon started building its all-fiber-optic network in California in 2004 and launched FiOS TV video service in Beaumont, Calif., last February under a locally negotiated franchise agreement. The new legislation will greatly accelerate the franchising process by allowing video providers to request franchise approval from the state's Public Utilities Commission.

Verizon FiOS TV service highlights include:

  • A broad collection of all-digital programming and compelling consumer choice.

  • A lead offer with more than 180 all-digital video and music channels, for $34.95 a month with Verizon FiOS Internet Service or a qualifying voice plan for $39.95 a month as a stand-alone service.

  • More than 20 high-definition channels, with extraordinary clarity and theater-quality sound.

  • More than 2,500 On Demand titles available to customers now, increasing to over 3,500 titles in the next several months. Many of them are free.

  • Channels grouped by genres such as entertainment, sports, news, shopping, movies and family, making it easy for audiences to find their favorite programming.

  • An easy-to-use interactive programming guide that integrates HD programming, On Demand content and the digital video recorder along with broadcast television into a seamless user experience.

  • A dual-tuner, HD-capable DVR that gives customers the freedom to pause and rewind live TV, record one show while watching another, and fast forward to their favorite part of the program - all without a VCR, tapes or DVDs.

Information on packages and prices is available at www.verizon.net/fiostv.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), a Dow 30 company, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving nearly 55 million customers nationwide. Verizon Business operates one of the most expansive wholly-owned global IP networks. Verizon Telecom is deploying the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network to deliver the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services to customers. Based in New York, Verizon has a diverse workforce of more than 252,000 and generates annual consolidated operating revenues of approximately $90 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.