City of Schenectady, NY
Schenectady County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Council of the City of Schenectady 9-11-1985 by Ord. No. 85-58. Amendments noted where applicable.]

§ A270-1 Title.

This ordinance shall be known and cited as the "Cable Television System and Audio Communications Services Ordinance."

§ A270-2 Grant of franchise easement.

A. 
In consideration of the faithful performance and observance of the conditions and reservations hereinafter set forth, there is hereby granted to Schenectady Cablevision, Inc., its successors, assigns of designees the right to erect, install, construct, reconstruct, replace, remove, repair, maintain and operate in or upon, under, above, across and from the streets, avenues, highways, sidewalks, bridges and other public ways, easements, rights-of-way and lands, as now existing, and all extensions thereof and additions thereto, in the City of Schenectady, all equipment, facilities, appurtenances and apparatus of any nature for the purpose of receiving, amplifying, transmitting and distributing by studios, cameras, projectors, recorders, antennas, transmitters, microwaves, wires, cables, coaxial cables, wave guides and cables of television, radio, electrical and electronic energy, pictures, sounds, signals, impulses and communications, unidirectional and multidirectional of every nature and description, audio and video, embracing any and all of the frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum, and to otherwise engage in the business, services and activities generally known as and practiced now and in the future by the "cable television system and audio communications services," in accordance with the laws of the United States of America, the State of New York and the City of Schenectady.
B. 
The City of Schenectady expressly reserves the right to adopt, in addition to the provisions contained in this franchise and existing applicable ordinances, such additional regulations as it shall find necessary in the exercise of its police power; provided, however, that such regulations are reasonable and not materially in conflict with the privileges granted in this franchise.
C. 
The Mayor or a duly appointed designee shall be responsible for the continuing administration of the franchise.
D. 
The terms of this franchise are subject to the approval of the New York State Commission on Cable Television.

§ A270-3 Term; rights not exclusive.

This franchise shall be effective on the effective date of this ordinance and shall continue in full force and effect for 10 years, the last five of which are conditional upon commencing an electronic upgrade to 35 channels within three years and completing said upgrade within the first five years. The right to use and occupy said streets, alleys, public ways and places for the purposes herein set forth shall not be exclusive, and the city reserves the right to grant a similar use of said streets, alleys, public ways and places to any person at any time during the period of this franchise.

§ A270-4 Fees; payment; agreements with subscribers to be filed.

A. 
In consideration of the terms of the franchise, Schenectady Cablevision, Inc. shall pay to the City of Schenectady an annual sum of money computed upon the gross monthly service charges received by Schenectady Cablevision, Inc. from subscribers for all services of every nature whatsoever, either for Community Antenna Television or for so-called extra services within the limits of the City of Schenectady, the franchise fee shall be the maximum designated in guidelines established as part of the requirements for certification by the Federal Communications Commission and in no event shall exceed 5%.
B. 
Such payment shall be deemed compensation for services rendered, supervision and inspection of equipment and facilities and for other expenses relating to the installation and operation of the system on the part of the city as provided in the ordinance, Schenectady Cablevision, Inc. having given assurances to the city that this rate will not interfere in the effectuation of federal regulatory goals in the field of cable television.
C. 
Such annual sum shall be payable, 1/2 thereof, at the end of each semiannual period. The semiannual anniversary shall be the 30th day of June and the 31st day of December of each year, and each semiannual payment shall be paid within 60 days thereafter. The franchise shall keep complete records of accounts showing dates and payments received. The duly authorized agent of this municipality shall have the right, power and authority to inspect the gross monthly service charge records of the franchisee, upon reasonable notice during normal business hours.
D. 
In addition thereto, the franchisee shall file with the City Clerk and shall keep in its local office, to be available for inspection by the city, a copy of the rules, regulations, terms and conditions adopted by the franchisee, and in effect with its subscribers. The franchisee shall also keep available at its local office, to be available for inspection by the city, and shall file with the City Clerk a semiannual summary report showing the gross monthly service charge revenues received by the franchisee from its operations within the city during the preceding semiannual periods as above described.
E. 
The franchisee shall submit to the city the form of its subscriber agreement and shall submit to the city any subsequent changes in that agreement.

§ A270-5 Rates and charges.

A. 
The franchising authority may not regulate the rates for the provision of cable service and other service, including but not limited to ancillary charges relating thereto, except to the extent expressly provided herein. The franchising authority may not regulate any other charges, fees or compensation of whatever nature received or charged by the franchisee. The franchising authority shall have such regulatory authority to set rates as allowed by federal law.
B. 
The initial rates and charges for the first outlet of basic service shall be those listed on Schedule I which is attached hereto and incorporated herein by this reference.[1] For a period of time up to and including December 29, 1986, the franchisee shall not increase such rates for basic service (first outlet) without the prior approval of the franchising authority, except as noted below, such approval to not be unreasonably withheld. Any request for an increase shall be acted upon by the franchising authority within 180 days after receipt thereof, or such increase shall be deemed automatically granted. For the purpose of this section, the parties agree that the rates and charges for the provision of basic service are not considered to be fixed. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary set forth herein, rates and charges for second outlets for basic service shall be deregulated as presently authorized by the Federal Communications Commission.
[1]:
Editor's Note: Schedule I is included at the end of this chapter.
C. 
In addition to any basic service rate increase which may be subject to approval of the franchising authority, the franchisee may, at its discretion and without consent of the franchising authority, increase rates relating to the provision of basic service by an amount not to exceed 5% per year, plus cost related increases as defined in the Cable Communication Policy Act and by the Federal Communications Commission.
D. 
Notice of rate changes shall be given at least 30 days in advance in newspapers of general circulation and by electronic message on a company television channel and at least 10 days in advance in writing to each individual subscriber.
E. 
Notwithstanding any provisions to the contrary herein, the parties agree that the franchisor shall have the right to regulate such fees, charges and any other payments during the term of this franchise which may be granted to municipalities and the franchisor by federal law.

§ A270-6 Construction and maintenance.

A. 
There is hereby granted the further right, privilege and authority to the franchisee to lease, rent or in any other manner obtain the use of towers, poles, lines, cables and other equipment and facilities from any and all holders of public licenses and franchises within the corporate limits of the City of Schenectady, including the New York Telephone Company, and to use such towers, poles, lines, cables and other equipment and facilities, subject to all existing and future ordinances and regulations of the City of Schenectady. The poles used for the franchisee's distribution system shall be those erected and maintained by the New York Telephone Company and/or Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation, when and where practicable, provided that mutually satisfactory rental agreements can be entered into with said companies. The franchisee shall have the right to erect, install and maintain its own towers, poles, guys, anchors and ducts as may be necessary for the proper construction and maintenance of the antenna site, head-end and distribution system, provided that poles placed on municipal properties shall first have their location approved by the City Engineer. Such permission shall not be unreasonably withheld.
B. 
All transmission and distribution structures, lines and equipment erected by the franchisee within the city shall be so located as to cause minimum interference with the proper use of streets, alleys and other public ways and places and to cause minimum interference with the rights or reasonable convenience of property owners who adjoin any of said streets, alleys or other public ways and places.
C. 
In case of any disturbance of pavement, sidewalks, driveways or other surfacing, the franchisee shall promptly, at its own cost and expense and in a manner approved by the City Engineer, replace and restore all paving, sidewalks, driveways or surfaces of any street or alley disturbed, in as good condition as before said work was commenced. In the event that at any time during the period of this franchise the city shall lawfully elect to alter or change the grade of any street, alley or public way, the franchisee, upon reasonable notice by the city, shall remove, relay and relocate its poles, wires, cables, underground conduits, manholes and other fixtures at its own expense.
D. 
The franchisee shall not place poles or other fixtures when the same will interfere with any gas, electric or telephone fixture, water hydrant or main, and all such poles or other fixtures placed in any street shall be placed at the outer edge of the sidewalk and inside the curbline, and those placed in alleys shall be placed close to the line of the lot abutting on said alley and then in such a manner as not to interfere with the usual travel on said street, alleys and public ways.
E. 
The franchisee shall, on the request of any person holding a building moving permit issued by the city, temporarily raise or lower its wires to permit the moving of buildings. The expense of such temporary removal, raising or lowering of wires shall be paid by the person requesting the same, and the franchisee shall have the authority to require such payment in advance. The franchisee shall be given not less than five days advance notice to arrange for such temporary wire changes.
F. 
The franchisee shall have the authority to trim trees upon and overhanging streets, alleys, sidewalks and public places of the city so as to prevent the branches of such trees from coming in contact with the wires and cables of the franchisee, all trimming to be done under the supervision and direction of the city and at the expense of the franchisee.

§ A270-7 Community antenna reception service; programming.

A. 
The franchisee shall, during the existence of this franchise, furnish reasonable, adequate and efficient community antenna reception service to the residents of the city, wherever practicable, and the franchisee agrees to maintain its system in reasonable repair and working order and to provide adequate facilities for such maintenance. These requirements may be temporarily suspended by disaster or emergency conditions or other circumstances beyond the reasonable control of the franchisee.
B. 
The franchisee shall provide to its subscribers all existing VHF and UHF Federal Communications Commission allocated television channels having studio facilities within a radius of 25 miles of the City of Schenectady.
C. 
Schenectady Cablevision, Inc. shall carry, in addition to the local signals, the following:
(1) 
Services which have contracts to carry sports events from the Boston and New York City markets, including but not limited to the baseball games of the Yankees, Mets and Red Sox, subject to modification if carriage becomes commercially impracticable, as defined in the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984.
(2) 
News.
(3) 
Financial reports.
(4) 
Time.
(5) 
Weather.
(6) 
Community activities.
(7) 
Horse racing results.
D. 
In addition, the parties agree that the company will carry an additional programming service that holds exclusive cable rights to major national sporting events, so long as the cost of such carriage does not exceed that for each of the current three independent signals carried, subject to modification if such carriage becomes commercially impracticable as defined in the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984.

§ A270-8 Public access.

To the extent required by any applicable state and federal laws and regulations and this franchise, Schenectady Cablevision will provide reasonable public access to its cable television system. Pursuant to this requirement, Schenectady Cablevision will:
A. 
Continue to provide a separate cable television production and programming studio at a site which will optimize the use of such studio by members of the public and which will be administered by the company or its designee, subject to the approval of the city.
B. 
Provide the separate equipment necessary for such studio and all necessary repair, replacement and upgrade of such equipment.
C. 
Establish ongoing training programs for members of the public to familiarize them with the equipment and procedures.
D. 
Make available to the public a minimum of one full-time equal quality channel for public access purposes and, to the extent possible, provide additional channel space upon an upgrade to 35 channels and a showing of need. Upon completion of system upgrade, one channel shall also be made available for carriage of the New York State Government Access Channel, when such channel becomes available, provided that there is available channel space and shall not be required to be set aside as a full-time channel unless such is required by New York State Commission on Cable Television Rules and Regulations.
E. 
Schenectady Cablevision will provide the financial resources necessary to support the operations of the cable television production and programming studio at a level at least commensurate with its current operations.
F. 
Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, the city and Schenectady Cablevision, in fulfilling their responsibility to provide public access to the cable television system, specifically affirm that they will comply with all present and future rules and requirements of the Cable Commission relating to public, educational and governmental access and, further, that the provisions of this franchise are subject to the rules of the Cable Commission, relating to public access, and that any such rules which are required to be incorporated by amendment or reference in a franchise are specifically incorporated herein.

§ A270-9 Discrimination in rates and employment prohibited.

The franchisee shall not, as to rates, charges, service facilities, rules, regulations or in any other respect, make or grant any preference or advantage to any person nor subject any person to any prejudice or disadvantage; provided, however, that this shall not be deemed to prohibit the establishment of a graduated scale of charges. The franchisee shall not refuse to hire or employ nor bar or discharge from employment nor discriminate against any person in compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment because of age, race, creed, color, national origin or sex.

§ A270-10 Priority of occupancy.

No privilege or exemption is granted or to be inferred from this franchise except those specifically prescribed herein. Any privilege claimed under this franchise in any street shall be subordinate to any prior lawful occupancy of the street. Schenectady Cablevision should hold priority of occupancy subordinate only to power and telephone.

§ A270-11 Transfer.

This franchise shall be held in trust by Schenectady Cablevision, Inc. or its successor in interest; provided, however, that it may assign its right, title and interest hereunder to another corporation or lawful business entity through the sale of stocks or assets or otherwise, provided that prior approval of such assignment shall be obtained from the Council of the City of Schenectady, which said approval shall not be unreasonably withheld, provided that such other corporation or lawful business entity is duly authorized to receive such assignment and agrees to undertake and assume all the obligations of the original corporation hereunder subject to all of the terms and conditions of this franchise. In the event that such assignment takes place with such consent, then immediately upon the delivery to the Council of the City of Schenectady of the aforesaid assumption agreement duly executed by the assignee, all of the rights, obligations and privileges herein granted to the franchisee shall forthwith devolve upon the assignee who shall in all respects stand in the place and stead of the original corporation hereunder. No such consent shall be required, however, for a transfer to an affiliate or a transfer in trust, by mortgage, by other hypothecation nor by assignment of any rights, title or interest of franchisee in the franchise or cable system in order to secure indebtedness.

§ A270-12 Safety.

A. 
The franchisee's plant and equipment, including the antenna site, head-end and distribution system towers, structures, poles, wires and appurtenances shall be installed in accordance with good engineering practices and shall be located, erected, constructed, reconstructed, replaced, removed, repaired, maintained and operated so as not to endanger or interfere with the lives of persons or to interfere with improvements that the municipality may deem proper to make or to unnecessarily hinder or obstruct pedestrian or vehicular traffic on public ways. places and structures. Erection, installation, construction, replacement, removal, repair, maintenance and operation of the system shall be in accordance with the provisions of the National Electrical Safety Code prepared by the National Bureau of Standards, the National Electrical Code of the National Board of Fire Underwriters and such applicable laws of the State of New York and applicable ordinances of this municipality which may now be in effect or enacted in the future. All installations shall be of a permanent nature, durable and maintained in a safe, suitable and substantial condition, in good order and repair.
B. 
Any opening or obstruction in the streets or other public ways made by the franchisee in the course of the construction, operation or removal of installations shall be guarded and protected at all times by the placement of adequate barriers, fences or boardings, the bounds of which during periods of dusk and darkness shall be clearly designated by warning lights.

§ A270-13 Business office.

During the term of this franchise, and any renewal thereof, the franchisee shall maintain within the city its main business office. This office shall be open to receive inquiries or complaints from subscribers during the normal business hours of 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday thru Friday. The company shall experiment with extended office hours during evenings and weekends within six months of the effective date of this agreement and shall report the results to the city. The office hours currently being observed shall be listed in Addendum B.[1] Any complaints from subscribers shall be acted upon as soon as practicable but within no more than three business days of their receipt.
[1]:
Editor's Note: Addendum B is included at the end of this chapter.

§ A270-14 Television repair prohibited.

The franchisee shall not engage in the business of repairing television or radio receivers in connection with its operations of the cable television system and audio communication services. Nothing herein shall be construed as prohibiting the franchisee from offering converters and from repairing these devices.

§ A270-15 Interference with other signals.

The cable television system and audio communications system will be so designed, engineered and maintained by the franchisee so as not to interfere with the television reception of residents of the city who are not subscribed to its services.

§ A270-16 Free municipal service.

The franchisee will supply one free drop to public and parochial, primary and secondary schools, fire stations, police stations, and the City of Schenectady City Hall located within the city, which are passed by a cable belonging to the franchisee. There shall be no monthly service charge for said service; however, a converter deposit may be charged.

§ A270-17 Indemnification.

A. 
The franchisee shall at all times defend, indemnify, protect and save harmless the City of Schenectady from and against any and all liability, losses and physical damage to property and bodily injury or death to persons, including payments made under workers' compensation laws, which may arise out of or be caused by the erection, construction, replacement, removal, maintenance and operations of the franchisee's cable television system and audio communications service and resulting from or by any negligence, fault or misconduct on the part of the franchisee, its agents, officers, servants and employees. The franchisee shall also carry New York State Workers' Compensation coverage on its employees who are engaged in any manner in the erection, construction, replacement, repair, maintenance and operation of the franchisee's plant and equipment.
B. 
The franchisee shall carry a general comprehensive liability insurance policy holding the City of Schenectady as an additional insured with the following minimum limits:
(1) 
Bodily injury or death: $300,000 for one person or $1,000,000 for any one incident involving four or more persons.
(2) 
Property damage: $1,000,000.
(3) 
Contractual liability: $1,000,000.
C. 
The franchising authority acknowledges that the legal, financial and technical qualifications of franchisee are sufficient to afford compliance with the term of the franchise and the enforcement thereof.

§ A270-18 Consumer complaint and security fund.

A. 
The franchisee shall provide notice to each subscriber, at intervals of not more than one year, of the procedure for reporting and resolving subscriber complaints. A security fund will be established in the amount of $2,500, to be replenished to that level each January 1, in an interest-bearing account with interest accruing to the company. This fund will constitute the total moneys available for penalties during any given calendar year. Penalty moneys will be withdrawn from the fund only on a quarterly basis at the end of each quarter in accordance with the provisions listed below. Withdrawals from the fund will require the signature of the city's duly authorized agent and the signature of an authorized member of the company. The city must proceed with litigation in order to collect any penalty money in excess of the $2,500 security fund. Likewise, the company must proceed with litigation to prevent the city from withdrawing any penalty money up to $2,500 per year for cause, as defined by this agreement.
B. 
Schedule of penalties. The following monetary penalties shall apply, and liability therefor shall accrue from five days of the date of mailing of notice, except as otherwise provided below.
(1) 
Administrative.
(a) 
Failure to make timely application, registration or any other filing with the Federal and/or State Commission and that failure affects service to the city: $100 per day per filing from time due until filed.
(b) 
Failure to maintain company insurance: $25 per day from time due until cured.
(c) 
Failure to timely submit any reports or fees due to the city pursuant to this franchise: $50 per day from time due until submitted.
(d) 
Failure to provide adequate public notice of rate changes or to conduct a system-wide notice by mail to individual subscribers pursuant to the franchise: $500 per rate change.
(e) 
Willful and knowing submission of falsified records to the city: $5,000 per occurrence.
(2) 
Construction and performance:
(a) 
Failure to restore damaged city property within 30 days to as good a condition as preexisted: $50 per day until restored.
(b) 
Repeated failure to commence service to a subscriber within 30 days of request, provided that the subscriber franchises entry to premises, within cabled area only: $5 per day per subscriber until service is begun. (NOTE: These penalties may not be assessed sooner than 90 days following notice from the city of inadequate performance and shall be assessed only if such inadequate performance has not been corrected within that ninety-day period.)
(c) 
Failure to pay any refund due a subscriber within 30 days of termination of service upon request of subscriber, if less than $10: $5 per day per subscriber from time due until paid. (NOTE: These penalties may not be assessed sooner than 90 days following notice from the city of inadequate performance and shall be assessed only if such inadequate performance has not been corrected within that ninety-day period.)
(d) 
Repeated failure to respond to a billing or service complaint within the specified period (by the next business day) according to NYSCCT requirements, provided that the subscriber permits entry to the premises. Five dollars per day per subscriber until response is made. (NOTE: These penalties may not be assessed sooner than 90 days following notice from the city of inadequate performance and shall be assessed only if such inadequate performance has not been corrected within that ninety-day period.)
(e) 
Failure to respond to a confirmed appointment and failure to cancel appointment before 3:00 p.m. If this happens twice to the same customer, installation is free.
C. 
Municipal Rights. The city retains the right, at its sole option, to reduce or waive any of the above-listed penalties where extenuating circumstances or conditions beyond the control of the company are deemed to exist. Such determination shall be within the sole discretion of the city, except that the city shall grant such reduction or waiver where the extenuating circumstances result from force majeure which shall include acts of third parties not within the company's control.
D. 
Further recourse. In addition to the foregoing penalties, if, after proper notice, the company shall refuse, neglect or intentionally fail to cause any work or other act required by law or by this franchise to be properly completed in, on, over or under, any street within a reasonable time prescribed, the city may, but shall not be required to, cause such work or other act to be performed or completed in whole or in part and, upon so doing, shall submit to the company an itemized statement of the costs thereof. The company shall, within 30 days after receipt of such statement, pay to the city the entire amount thereof.

§ A270-19 Revocation.

If the franchisee shall fail to comply with any of the material provisions of this ordinance or default in any of its material obligations hereunder, except for causes beyond the reasonable control of the franchisee, and shall fail within 30 days after written notice from the municipality to commence and, within a reasonable time, complete the correction of such default or noncompliance, the Council of the City of Schenectady shall have the right to revoke this franchise and all rights of the franchisee hereunder. In the event that the franchisee shall be adjudged bankrupt or placed in receivership, this municipality may declare the special rights herein granted forfeited and terminated.

§ A270-20 Federal regulations.

A. 
Consistent with the requirements of Rule 1(A)(6) of the Federal Communications Commission, any modification of Rule 76.31, resulting from an amendment thereto by the Federal Communications Commission shall, to the extent applicable, be considered as a part of this franchise as of the effective date of the amendment made by the Federal Communications Commission and will be incorporated in such franchise by specific amendments thereto by the lawful action of the Council of the City of Schenectady within one year from the effective date of the Federal Communications Commission's amendment or the time of renewal of this franchise, whichever occurs first.
B. 
The franchisee shall file requests for all necessary operating authorization with the Commission on Cable Television and the Federal Communications Commission within 60 days from the date this franchise is awarded.

§ A270-21 Notice of actions by city.

Any inquiry, proceeding, investigation or other action to be taken or proposed to be taken by the Council of the City of Schenectady in regard to the operations of the franchisee's cable television shall be taken only after 30 days' public notice of such action or proposed action is published in a local daily or weekly newspaper having general circulation in the city; a copy of such action or proposed action is served directly on the franchisee; the franchisee has been given an opportunity to respond in writing and/or at hearing as may be specified by the Council of the City of Schenectady; and general members of the public have been given an opportunity to respond or comment in writing on the action or proposed action.