CenturyLink merger could help Qwest's case for video franchise rule changes

Qwest's (NYSE: Q) latest move to change how Colorado's local and state regulators regulate video services is a clear sign that the telco wants to deliver a broader telco TV service across its traditional ILEC footprint.

The obvious catalyst behind Qwest's move to win over the states regulators on changing video franchising is its impending merger with CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL), which has already rolled out its Prism IPTV service in five markets, with plans for full commercial deployment in two of those markets expected to be completed early this year.

A recent Denver Post report intimates that Qwest could be using Colorado as a testing ground to drive video regulatory changes throughout the rest of its 14-state territory. Among the many items on its wish list is the elimination of a requirement that every video provider has to build out service to every home in a given community.

To get its case heard, Qwest is taking a two-pronged approach by talking to both state and the local lawmakers.

Qwest executives are in talks with Colorado state legislators about getting a franchising rule change on this year's legislative session. And in a move to take preemptive strike against possible opposition to rule changes, the service provider is talking with local government official Greater Metro Telecommunications Consortium and Colorado Municipal League that represent local Colorado towns and cities. It plans to conduct similar action in other states that reside in its 14-state region.

Although 20 states voted to shift video franchising power to the states, Iowa was the only state in Qwest's current service territory to approve the measure and Colorado voted against the measure in 2007.  

What's driving local regulators to look at the rule change again is that unlike 2007 when Qwest had little more than its proprietary VDSL-based Choice TV offering in Arizona, which was shut down in October 2008 in favor of reselling DirecTV satellite service, the CenturyLink merger will instantly give it a proven TV offering it could bring into its existing footprint.  

For more:
- The Denver Post has this article
- Here's FierceCable's take

Related articles:
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Qwest finally phasing out Choice TV
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