Qwest petitions Idaho legislators to change video franchising rules

As Qwest (NYSE: Q) completes its merger with CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL), a provider that's been expanding its Prism IPTV service in select markets, it should be no surprise that Qwest wants Idaho and other states to negotiate franchise fee agreements at the state versus the local level.

Although Qwest previously shut down its own ChoiceTV service and has been offering satellite-based TV service in its local service territories, the battle between the telco and Idaho regulator has been going on for over four years. In just this year's Idaho Legislature alone, Qwest has backed four "video services" (32, 156, 303 and 320) bills, the latest of which was sent to the House State Affairs Committee on Tuesday.

Getting to this point hasn't come without a fight. Similar to its hometown of Colorado, the city of Pocatello and Boise, Idaho defeated the first two bills. Pocatello city officials were worried that if franchise fee agreements were done on a state level it would compromise its Video Services Department's budget and thus ending the city's public access program.

Despite their reservations, neither Pocatello nor Boise city officials will oppose the new video bill because it incorporates elements that address their key concerns.

CenturyLink itself has yet to reveal its video plans in Qwest's existing markets, but it's not hard to imagine they would like a simpler video franchising framework. Jim Schmit, Qwest's Idaho president, told the Idaho State Journal that by switching franchising agreements to the state level, it would not only simplify the franchise process, but also make it more attractive to deploy broadband network infrastructure in the state to serve both video and new business services like Ethernet.

For more:
- Idaho State Journal has this article

Related articles:
CenturyLink merger could help Qwest's case for video franchise rule changes
Qwest retunes its television stance in Colorado
Qwest finally phasing out Choice TV
Qwest refloats video franchising proposal to Colorado lawmakers