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POLICY: Maine State Chamber Opposes 920 To Make Streaming a Public Utility

June 11, 2021


Passage of LD 920 will have a chilling effect on broadband expansion in Maine

As amended, LD 920An Act To Promote Oversight of and Competitive Parity among Video Service Providers, would make video service providers and streaming services delivered over the internet a “public utility,” subject to the multitude of regulations that currently cover gas, electric, and water companies. Passage would result in a sea-change in Maine law and add costly new fees to cable customers’ monthly bills, making recovery from a difficult year even more challenging. What’s worse, this preemptive fee could make Maine vulnerable to costly litigation, further burdening taxpayers. And that’s not all - the bill discriminates against providers of streaming services that are investing in critical broadband infrastructure for the state of Maine. 

  • No state or local jurisdiction has imposed public utility oversight over digital streaming services. LD 920 makes video service providers public utilities.
  • LD 920 appears to make it illegal for any streaming service that is owned by a broadband network provider to operate in Maine without a franchise in each and every town where the internet is available.   
  • Given the impracticality and cost of securing 300 additional franchises, LD 920 may have the impact of forcing certain streaming services to shut down in Maine, depriving tens of thousands of consumers of what they want.
  • LD 920 would increase the costs to Mainers of some of the most popular, widely-available streaming video services by adding up to 5% in franchise fees. Customers of any company with broadband infrastructure and streaming services would be assessed to this new fee, likely raising prices for hundreds of thousands of Maine consumers.
  • LD 920 creates a hidden fee on cable TV by allowing Local Access Channel operators to pass on any capital investment costs to cable customers. LD 920 puts the Local Access Channel operator and not the local town in charge of determining how much funding they need.  LD 920 essentially allows the Local Access Channel operators to write checks on everybody else’s bank accounts!

LD 920 is a perfect example of tax policy discouraging network investment. Maine should not penalize providers who have already invested in critical broadband infrastructure.

Please Contact Your Legislators Today
And Urge Them Oppose LD 920!

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