As I write this my colleague Kent Lassman is in Austin, Texas, testifying before the House Committee on Regulated Industries. The topic is "The Impact of Statewide Video Franchise and Telecommunications Reform in Texas," and along with testifying, Kent is presenting the committee with a new Progress on Point he has authored titled "Franchising in the Local Communications Market: A Primer and Discussion of Three Questions." The paper is worth a read for those interested in the jurisdictional questions surrounding franchising.
In Kent's own words, here is the thrust of his message to the Texas state legislature:
Local franchise authority is an anachronism. Franchises were established as a medieval grant of authority, enmeshed in communications law as a regulatory tool to limit market power, and cemented in local government as a stable, and hidden, source of tax revenues. Today local franchise authority stands in the way of new market entry, additional facilities investment and enhanced digital, broadband choices for consumers. A statewide franchise to the multichannel video marketplace would be a welcome change from the status quo and an opportunity to reduce regulatory costs on all providers of IP based services. Eventually, both the law and the technologies at issue suggest a national solution is in order.
On a relatively unrelated note, I hope while Kent's in Austin he'll have a chance to take in some good blues at Antone's.