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Qwest and other pay-TV providers could offer cable TV anywhere in the state under a bill introduced in Colorado Tuesday.

Rep. David Balmer, R-Centennial, is sponsoring a bill that would let Qwest bypass the process of negotiating franchises in each municipality it wants to serve. Some seven other states have introduced similar measures after lobbying efforts by telephone companies AT&T and Verizon, which are aggressively pushing into video services.

Denver-based Qwest has been floating draft legislation in recent weeks in an attempt to better compete with its chief rival, Comcast. Balmer said he agreed to sponsor the bill only if it was rewritten to give municipalities a larger chunk of franchise fees.

The bill is still likely to face fierce opposition from local governments and Comcast, which has 800,000 subscribers in Colorado. Comcast has repeatedly argued that Qwest will "cherry -pick" the most affluent neighborhoods if it is not required, as Comcast was, to provide TV service throughout a community.,2777,DRMN_23910_5316928,00.html

Qwest quietly tried but failed to muster the support for state franchise legislation last year. If such a bill were to pass, it would open the door for any pay-TV provider to offer service in the state.

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