April 5, 2006

House Panel Backs easier TV Licensing for Telcos

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on Wednesday approved legislation designed to make it easier for telephone companies like AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications to roll out subscription television service.

The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on telecommunications and the Internet voted 27-4 to allow companies to apply for a nationwide license to offer video service, instead of the current process of negotiating for the licenses with thousands of individual cities and towns.

AT&T and Verizon are the two largest U.S. telephone carriers. Both are expanding into subscription television service and have complained it would take them years to get the licenses, making it tough to compete against cable companies.