Over the past few years, several municipalities have taken to the courts to try to legislate through litigation and impose decades-old laws upon emerging technologies and consumer-friendly video services in pursuit of additional revenue streams. The common goal was to capitalize upon rising consumer demand to watch live news, sports, and entertainment by imposing burdensome fees upon families that would now be charged for every streaming service they might use to access entertainment or information, regardless of whether they stream their content over a high-speed internet connection or mobile service. 

DIRECTV has consistently worked with state legislatures and programmers to fight against proposals that would harm consumers and rob them of more choice, control, convenience, and value. The result of those efforts is now emerging as a critical mass of state legislatures have recently clarified these statutes to protect constituents from municipalities that are seeking to misinterpret longstanding laws related to who is subject to right-of-way franchise fees.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson has just signed a clarifying piece of legislation passed by the state Senate on May 7 and the Missouri House shortly before that would make Missouri the most recent of 14 different states to prohibit this brand of fee that would otherwise force consumers to pay a 5 percent tax on top of the subscription costs for every streaming service they might choose. Now that Missouri has forbidden these sorts of capricious fees, it joins Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee in a plethora of all-too-infrequent, bipartisan consensus against these efforts.

“DIRECTV applauds the states who have recognized the undue burden these fees will place on millions of Americans who stream their video programming,” said Hamlin Wade, Associate Vice President of External Affairs at DIRECTV, who worked on the legislation across each state. “This overwhelming and bipartisan vote by the Missouri legislature, and Governor Parson’s signing it into law, should put to rest any further notion that franchise fees apply to consumers who choose to stream their content.”

Although 13 states have seen municipalities file lawsuits alleging that streaming and satellite services are subject to video franchising laws, no city in the country currently collects franchise fees on these services. Furthermore, no state legislature has imposed a new law on streaming services applying franchise fees to these services. Courts across the nation have ruled against the municipalities and upheld the longstanding policy that video franchising laws do not apply to entities that do not have physical infrastructure in the public right of way. Every state that has clarified the video service provider law to codify longstanding policy has overwhelming support for the legislation, with over 95% of elected officials voting to protect consumers from new fees.