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    Repiglican Roast

    A spirited discussion of public policy and current issues

    Location: The mouth of being

    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Monday, June 18, 2007

    Greed Driven Cheats Who Run Phone Companies Want a Piece of Lucrative Cable TV Market in Illinois

    The measure hammered out by state lawmakers and the attorney general's office would try to make it easier for telephone giants AT&T and Verizon to compete with cable kings Comcast Corp. and Insight Communications for consumers' phone, Internet and cable needs.

    It cleared the House 113-0 two weeks ago and awaits expected approval in the Senate.

    That's a long way from just a few weeks ago, when opposition from city mayors, public access channels and powerful cable companies seemed to have doomed the idea.

    But protections included in the negotiations prompted opponents to drop their opposition, although Verizon criticizes the proposal as making it more difficult to enter Illinois' market. Even the cable companies are officially neutral on the measure and say they're willing to see if it works.

    "It obviously didn't please everybody," said Gary Mack, spokesman for the Illinois Cable Television and Communications Association. "There are elements of it that nobody's completely happy with."

    The new measure eases concerns about the loss of public access channels, known as PEGs, by protecting funding and potentially creating channels in places that don't have them now.

    PEG advocates say that's a vast improvement over what's happened elsewhere.

    "In a number of states, PEG access is dead," said Barbara Popovic of Keep Us Connected, a coalition of cities, nonprofit groups and public access channels. "This really does give PEG access a new hope."

    Communities still will get their franchise fees. They'll also have the final say over permits for cable equipment and some enforcement power if service is flawed. Mayors throughout the state had warned that stripping them of franchising power could jeopardize customer service and cause a revenue shortfall in local government.

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