Consumer Groups Ask PSC for More Input on Verizon Cable Franchise for New York City

Consumer groups have asked the New York Public Service Commission to issue a notice inviting public comment before acting on a request of Verizon to approve a recently filed cable franchise agreement with New York City. According to Reuters U.K., “Verizon Communications Inc. said on Wednesday it expects the New York Public Service Commission to approve its FiOS video service next month.” See Verizon Expects NY Green Light for FiOS Next Month.

In a letter to the PSC Chairman, the consumer groups point to insufficient notice given by New York City for comment and the public hearing on its agreement with Verizon for the proposed franchise, and to importance of franchise conditions for consumers in the coming years. The letter states:

The Verizon-New York City agreement is a first-of-its-kind agreement that will shape the cable marketplace in New York City for many years to come, and is likely to influence future cable franchise agreements in municipalities throughout the state. The magnitude of this agreement, stretching far beyond the reaches of New York City’s five boroughs, demands full public consideration and review at the state level.
During the requested public comment period before the PSC, it would be the intention of the undersigned organizations to offer substantive suggestions regarding Public, Education and Government channels, as well as a range of important consumer protection issues.

The letter also seeks the opportunity for comment on a May 22, 2008 protective order issued by the PSC Chairman restricting public access to portions of Verizon’s application. The consumer groups include Common Cause NY, Consumers Union, New York Public Interest Research Group, and People’s Production House.

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