Cable franchise bill ready for Minnesota governor's signature

A closely watched cable franchise bill that essentially removes some regulatory barriers for newcomers starting franchises to compete with incumbent cable providers should be signed into law by Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty in the next couple days.

The bill was instigated in the Minnesota legislature after a legal tussle broke out between cable incumbent Mediacom and the community of Prior Lake over how much leeway a community could give a competitive builder. Prior Lake thought IPTV provider Integra should have a little slack with how much of the franchise it was required to cover; Mediacom, which had to cover everything, disagreed and took the matter to court.

The legislation, when signed into law, won't affect that dispute but is expected to help smaller companies get into the cable market by removing restrictions such as demanding a full build-out to comply with franchise rules. It also could affect other states where communities are looking to make life easier for competitive cable providers.

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