SPRINGFIELD -- Legislation on its way to Gov. Rod Blagojevich would create thousands of jobs and attract $1 billion in new investments while encouraging competition in Illinois’ cable TV and video-services market, supporters said Tuesday.

By ADRIANA COLINDRES


STATE CAPITOL BUREAU


 


SPRINGFIELD -- Legislation on its way to Gov. Rod Blagojevich would create thousands of jobs and attract $1 billion in new investments while encouraging competition in Illinois’ cable TV and video-services market, supporters said Tuesday.


 


Still unknown, however, is whether Blagojevich intends to sign Senate Bill 678 into law. A spokeswoman for the governor said the bill is “under review.”


 


The proposal, the product of months of negotiations, would make it easier for telephone companies such as AT&T to offer video services that compete with cable television offerings.


 


One part of the legislation would replace the existing franchise-authorization process, which requires cable and video providers to negotiate franchise agreements with every municipality they want to serve. Instead, the Illinois Commerce Commission would administer a new statewide franchise-authorization process — in essence, creating a one-stop shop for companies that want to offer video services.


 


The Senate on Tuesday voted 54-0 for the bill, which the House earlier approved, 113-0.


 


Sen. James Clayborne, the Belleville Democrat who was the bill’s Senate sponsor, said it would spur competition in the video market and ensure that consumers are protected.


 


The consumer-driven provisions in the bill include a requirement that companies offering video services must give customers a 30-day notice before raising rates. Also, standard installations must be completed within seven business days after an order is placed.


 


The new entrants in the video-services market would need to install infrastructure capable of delivering their products, and that would create jobs, Clayborne said.


Only Verizon, another telephone company, publicly opposed the final version of the legislation, saying it would not ease the entry of other companies into the video-services market.


 


While lawmakers generally praised the bill, some also have cautioned that consumers should not expect too much, too soon. During House debate last month, Rep. Fred Crespo, D-Hoffman Estates, said: “Our constituents need to understand that competition is not going to happen overnight.”


 


If enacted into law, SB 678 would expire in 2013. Lawmakers included the expiration date because they want to monitor the development of competition in the industry, said Rep. James Brosnahan, D-Evergreen Park, the bill’s House sponsor.


 


Adriana Colindres can be reached at (217) 782-6292 or adriana.colindres@sj-r.com.