Earlier this year, SBC realized that going around and convincing every local government to grant it a franchise license to offer IPTV was too much of a pain (with good reason). The company then announced that it was just going to ignore local TV franchises and offer service with or without them -- and if anyone didn't like it, they could sue. It appears that Walnut Creek, California hasn't quite taken them up on their offer, but it has told them they can't offer service without a franchise. So, (what's now) AT&T has said if that's the way it's going to be, then they'll be the ones to sue. They claim that they don't need a cable license, because what they're offering is "different" -- a claim that would be a lot more credible if they didn't make their IPTV offerings look so much like cable offerings. It seems that they're at risk of the ever-popular (among politicians) "looks like a duck" test. If they had really offered something different, then they'd have a better case. Still, hopefully these (potential) lawsuits will cause people to revisit the question of whether or not local television monopolies make sense any more. Of course, if you take them away, then it only adds incentive for muni-broadband and muni-TV to help reach the areas that are under-served by the providers. So, AT&T may want to be careful what it wishes for.
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