Verizon TV deal hinges on PSC approval – QNS.com

Verizon TV deal hinges on PSC approval

Many Queens TV viewers could soon have a new option for cable TV service. Verizon has entered into a 12-year agreement with the city that could give some households another provider option by this summer.
The deal, which Verizon and the city agreed to on May 27, will offer Verizon as a cable TV option to everyone in the city by 2014. However, the agreement still needs the approval of the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC), which Verizon executives hope could come as soon as July.
Currently, Time Warner and Cablevision are the only cable service providers that offer packages to city residents, with Queens customers limited to Time Warner packages.
“After many years, real choice for TV is closer to reality for New York City residents,” said Monica Azare, Verizon Senior Vice President for New York and Connecticut. “Soon, they will be able to break away from the monopoly of legacy cable TV providers. If we are successful in the last steps of the approval process, we will deliver on our promise to begin offering FiOS TV in parts of each of the five boroughs later this year.”
If the PSC approves the deal, 15 percent of Queens homes could be eligible to receive the service by the end of 2008, and that percentage could double by 2009, according to a Verizon spokesperson.
Verizon has already installed fiber optic cabling that allows those in various neighborhoods in northeast and southern Queens to receive high-speed Internet usage, and the TV rollout plan would be unveiled after final PSC approval.
Verizon’s FiOS TV offers a broad range of all-digital programming, high-definition (HD) channels and access to more than 10,000 on-demand titles - 70 percent at no additional charge.
However, not everyone was so quick to praise the agreement or the way the city and Verizon handled the negotiations.
“This $70 billion deal, drawn up behind closed doors, undoubtedly could use a brief timeout for public review,” said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/New York, a non-partisan, non-profit citizens’ lobby group. “The approval of this agreement is premature. It is a $70 billion bun that needs more time in the oven.”
Meanwhile, City Comptroller William Thompson applauded the agreement and praised Verizon for agreeing to a number of measures in his “Cable Consumer Bill of Rights,” including establishing an additional service center in each borough accessible by mass transit and posting information on its web site concerning an annual cable consumer report card.
“New York City can now be viewed as a national leader in consumer protection,” Thompson said. “These new measures add a level of transparency and accountability that were non-existent in previous agreements and will serve as a blueprint for future negotiations.”

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