Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Secretary of State Handel Announces Implementation of Consumer Choice Television Act

Secretary of State Karen Handel today announced the implementation of the Consumer Choice Television Act (House Bill 227), which gives cable and/or video service providers the option to apply for a state-wide franchise license. The statute provides telecommunications companies a less restrictive process to offer cable and video services to Georgia counties and cities.

Under the previous franchising system, a cable provider had to negotiate franchise agreements with each municipality in which it sought to offer services. The new law creates a single statewide franchise authority through which a provider could serve any community. Though the statute gives the provider the option of applying for a statewide franchise license, the legislature wanted to ensure that customer service standards were not compromised. Therefore, each state franchise must comply with the customer service standards as set forth by federal standards. The Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs developed the rules and regulations for which a local governing authority could resolve subscriber complaints.

“Georgia’s new franchising system should increase television, phone and internet access options and lower costs for consumers,” said Handel.

Effective January 1, 2008, cable service providers and video service providers desiring to pursue a State Video Franchise Authority Certificate must submit a completed application packet to both the Office of Secretary of State – Corporations Division, and to each affected local governing authority in which it plans to provide service.

“We wanted to develop a process that was consistent with the Governor’s initiative to be a faster, friendlier, and easier state agency. When we designed the application process, we sought input from and worked with representatives from various municipalities, legislators, and various cable service providers to develop guidelines that met both the requirements of the law and our customer service standards,” said Chauncey R. Newsome, Corporations Division Director.

The estimated time frame to obtain a State Video Franchise Authority License is approximately 45 days. For more information please visit: http://www.sos.ga.gov/corporations/Video_franchise.htm. This site contains information on the procedures and policies for applying for the State Video Franchise Authority Certificate, including printable forms and filing instructions.

Inquiries regarding this process can be addressed by calling the Secretary of State’s Corporations Call Center at 404-656-2817.

Customer complaints should be directed to the Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs at 404-651-8600 or 800-869-1123.

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