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Verizon Gets More Nets, Franchises

Verizon Communications' relentless march into the video business picked up more steam this week as the telco signed programming deals with five more cable channels and collected another local cable franchise. Five upstart networks -- The America Channel, Blackbelt TV, Expo TV, Lime and the Pentagon Channel -- signed distribution agreements for Verizon's upcoming FiOS TV service, which is slated to launch later this year. The Baby Bell -- which has also signed content deals with such large cable programmers as NBC Universal, Discovery Networks, Starz Entertainment Group, Showtime Networks, A&E Television Networks and Turner Broadcasting System -- said it will soon announce agreements with other major programmers. At the same time, Florida's Manatee County Commission granted Verizon a 15-year franchise to deliver video service to up to 235,000 homes passed in the county. The new franchise, Verizon's second in Florida and eighth overall, will put the telco in competition with Bright House Networks and Comcast Corp.
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