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Cable TV bill heads to Blagojevich

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By Amanda Vinicky, IL Public Radio

Springfield, Ill. – Legislation now headed to Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's desk would let phone companies provide cable television through their phone lines.

It's similar to legislation that Missouri lawmakers passed earlier this year. The Missouri law will take effect in August; no word yet if Blagojevich will sign the Illinois version.

New technology allows video to be transmitted to television sets over telephone wires.

AT&T has the technology already.But the company needed clearance from every town in which it wanted to offer its "U-Verse" video service, a process the phone giant says was too cumbersome.

This proposal opens the door for AT&T to compete with cable companies. It permits state-authorized video service providers to operate anywhere in Illinois.

Democratic Senator James Clayborne of Belleville says it will give people another choice for TV-based entertainment. He also predicted cable rates would fall for customers.

Clayborne also says Illinois will get thousands of jobs as AT&T hires workers to make telephone lines compatible.

Part of the deal is sure to please consumers bothered by tardy cable technicians. Video service providers would have to give customers $25-credits if they show up outside of a 4-hour appointment window.

While there are other consumer protections, some critics say they don't think it will work out as well as planned. They say there's no guarantee cable prices will go down.

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