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State Laws/Franchising

North Carolina Reform Law Draws Fire

5/23/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

Washington — A new law passed by the
North Carolina legislature two weeks ago to
restrict local governments’
ability to compete with private
cable and telecom companies
is being targeted by a selfdescribed
government corruption-fighting website.

And despite a last-ditch effort
by bill opponents, Democratic
Gov. Bev Perdue said late
last Friday (May 20) that she
would neither sign nor veto the
measure by a midnight deadline,
which means the bill was
set to go into effect at press time.

“[T]he North Carolina legislature has
passed a bill that bans competition from
community broadband networks. Under
this legislation, local communities would
be held hostage to the corporate broadband
networks that have given America secondrate
networks everywhere,”
Lawrence Lessig of rootstrikers.
org. said “We need you to contact
your North Carolina friends
and ask them to contact Governor
Perdue, and ask her to veto
this ridiculous bill.”

Among other things, the
cable-backed bill limits cityowned
communications service
to the municipality’s
corporate limits — unless it is
to serve an “unserved” area,
prevents a city from delaying the provision
of monopoly service, prevents cross-subsidization
of municipal service or prevents
any ads for city service on PEG channels.

Lessig is not the only one unhappy with
the bill.

Catherine Rice, president of the Southeast
Association of Telecommunications Officers
and Advisors, which fought the bill’s passage,
called it the Monopoly Protection Act, and
said that the measure “places prohibitive restrictions
on cities and towns that seek to provide
communications services to their local
residents and businesses that are unserved or
underserved by private providers.”

Time Warner Cable, which backs the bill,
sees it as a guard against government overbuilding,
which is also driving the industry’s
pushback on stimulus funding for broadband
deployment in anything but unserved areas.

TWC said the bill ensures fairness with a
required public notice and “a number of reasonable
requirements designed to provide a
level playing field.”

September