My local town approved the FiOS TV franchise contract. I attended the first and only public hearing on the matter a month ago (and blogged it here).
It was accepted without amendments once the town leaders decided they had no choice but to pick up the $20k legal check incurred while negotiating payments for the town’s local cable access channel, WinCam.
In the end, about $20k in legal fees was paid to secure $150k in financing for a local cable channel that cannot produce any viewership statistics. In addition, over a year of negotiation ensued using volunteer citizen labor. Meanwhile, residents of the town had to wait for a competitive provider for cable TV services and the lower rates that would arrive with the dismantling of the local monopoly.
My conclusion? Cable franchise agreements are a very bad idea that towns should have never entered into in the first place. They should have a legal right to pursue them but the constituents of each town should demand that they be dismantled. The federal government should not need to be involved simply because local citizens are neglecting to pressure their local leaders to allow competition in video services.
Footnote: I can now get FiOS TV. Ironically, the only channels I watch are PBS and occasionally OLN (for cycling). OLN is owned by Comcast. And no, Verizon’s FiOS TV doesn’t offer it.