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Ivan G. Seidenberg

chairman & ceo, verizon communications inc

Ivan Seidenberg addresses the Boston College Chief Executives' Club of Boston in the Wharf Room at the Boston Harbor Hotel.

Verizon chief urges smoother cable franchising process

Companies shouldn't feel obligated to "give back" to the community, because they haven't taken anything away, the Austrian-born chief of the world's largest food company told local executives yesterday.

Verizon Communications Inc. chief executive Ivan G. Seidenberg yesterday called for a streamlined cable franchising process in Massachusetts and cautioned politicians to be careful when considering new taxes or regulations.

clockwise, from bottom left
Edmund Kelly (Chairman, President & CEO) Liberty Mutual Group; The Honorable Thomas M. Menino (Mayor, City of Boston); David Barrett (President & CEO, Lahey Clinic); Sandra Moose (President, Strategic Advisory Services); Greg Summe (Chairman, PerkinElmer); Charlie Baker (President & CEO, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care); Edward Linde (CEO, Boston Properties); Robert Kraft (Owner, New England Patriots); Ranch Kimball (President & CEO, Joslin Diabetes Center)


Speaking at the Boston College Chief Executives' Club of Boston yesterday, Seidenberg discussed Verizon's recent commitment to invest $200 million in Massachusetts this year as it plans to offer tlelvision service to 30 new communities and expand broadband availability.  But he stressed that even as the company has been successful negotiating cable franchises with individual communities, the process has been more costly and uncertain than elsewhere.

In other states, where Verizon has won streamlined rules for offering video service, part of the negotiations with passing legislation included broader commitments about its FiOS buildout, Seidenberg said.  "We'd be willing to address the breadth of our rollout," he said.  Such cable franchising rules are opposed by cable companies and municipalities.

Seidenberg also discussed the big picture for Verizon, which goes beyond its legacy landline business and new television service to wireless offerings.

Members of the media crowd around Mr. Seidenberg.

The company owns 55 percent of Verizon Wireless, which recently won at a federal auction a coveted portion of airwaves used to carry voice and data.  "We see the cellphone becoming a universal remote that lets you manage all your digital content," he said.

Seidenberg also warned that too many regulations and taxes that meet short-term needs could hinder long-term growth.  Recently, the state Appellate Tax Board said Verizon should pay taxes on telephone poles and wires over public ways that could cost the company an estimated $78 million.  Verizon plans to appeal.

Article by Carolyn Y. Johnson
The Boston Globe
Friday, March 28, 2008