[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Harrisburg by Ord. No. 4-1994. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992, Pub. L. 102-385, amending the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984, Pub. L. 98-549.
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Cable Television Regulation Code."
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
- ASSOCIATED EQUIPMENT
- All equipment in a cable subscriber's home that is used to receive the basic service, regardless of whether such equipment is additionally used to receive other tiers of regulated programming service and/or unregulated service. "Associated equipment" includes, but is not limited to, converter boxes, remote control units, connections for additional television receivers, and other cable home wiring.
- BASIC SERVICE RATE
- The rate charged by a cable operator for basic service and associated equipment costs.
- BASIC SERVICES
- At a minimum, all signals of domestic television broadcast stations provided to any subscriber, except a signal secondarily transmitted by satellite carrier beyond the local service area of such station, regardless of how such signal is ultimately received by the cable system; any public, educational, and governmental programming required to be carried on the basic tier; and any additional video service or other programming service added to the basic tier by the cable operator.
- CABLE ACT OF 1992
- The Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992, Pub. L. 102-385, amending the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984, Pub. L. 98-549, and all regulations promulgated thereunder, as the foregoing may be amended from time to time.
- CABLE OPERATOR
- Any person or group of persons who:
- CABLE SERVICE
- CABLE SYSTEM
- A facility, consisting of a set of closed transmission paths and associated signal generation, reception and control equipment, that is designed to provide cable service, which includes video programming and which is provided to multiple subscribers within a community, but does not include:
- A. A facility that serves only to retransmit the television signals of one or more television broadcast stations;
- B. A facility that serves only subscribers in one or more multiple-unit dwellings under common ownership, control or management, unless such facility uses any public right-of-way;
- C. A facility of a common carrier except to the extent that such facility is used in the transmission of video programming directly to subscribers; or
- D. Any facilities of any electric utility used solely for operating its electric utility systems.
- The Federal Communications Commission of the federal government.
- NORMAL BUSINESS HOURS
- Those hours during which most similar businesses in the community are open to serve customers. In all cases, "normal business hours" includes some evening hours at least one night per week and weekend hours.
- NORMAL OPERATING CONDITIONS
- Those service conditions which are within the control of the cable operator. Those conditions which are not within the control of the cable operator include, but are not limited to, natural disasters, civil disturbances, power outages, telephone network outages, and severe or unusual weather conditions. Those conditions which are ordinarily within the control of the cable operator include, but are not limited to, special promotions, pay-per-view events, rate increases, regular peak or seasonal demand periods, and maintenance or upgrade of the cable system.
- SERVICE INTERRUPTION
- The loss of picture or sound on one or more cable channels.
There is hereby created a Cable Regulation Board ("Board") to be composed of five individuals as follows:
[Amended 11-23-1999 by Ord. No. 50-1999]
A member of City Council or a representative thereof, to be appointed as Council shall determine.
The Mayor or the Mayor's designee.
Three residents of the City, one of whom shall be appointed by City Council and two of whom shall be appointed by the Mayor with the advice and consent of Council.
Each member of the Board shall serve at the pleasure of the appointing authority or for a term of three years, whichever is shorter, and shall serve until a successor is appointed; provided, however, that the initial term of the two new members shall be for two and three years, respectively. Notwithstanding the above, each member shall serve until a replacement is confirmed.
[Amended 11-23-1999 by Ord. No. 50-1999]
The Board shall have the authority and its duties shall include:
Taking such action on behalf of the City as may be required from time to time to obtain and maintain the City's certification to regulate cable basic service rates;
Notifying the cable operator serving the City when the City has been certified by the FCC to regulate basic service rates and when the Board has been duly constituted;
Notifying the cable operator serving the City that the City intends to enforce the minimum customer service standards established by the Cable Act of 1992;
Making all filings required or permitted to be made to the FCC by the City pursuant to the Cable Act of 1992;
Receiving, filing in the public records of the City, reviewing for completeness, and placing on its agenda for consideration all submissions, petitions and other filings required or permitted to be made to the City pursuant to the Cable Act of 1992. All submissions, petitions and other filings shall be made via first-class mail, postage prepaid, to the attention of the Cable Regulation Board at the following address: Office of the City Clerk, Suite 101, Rev. Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., City Government Center, 10 North Second Street, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17101;
Receiving and transmitting to the proper officer of the City any filing fees which may be established by the Board from time to time;
Retaining the services of a qualified expert in cable rate matters to provide opinions to the Board on such matters as the Board shall deem appropriate;
Adopting, promulgating, amending, and rescinding suitable rules and regulations to carry out the provisions and purposes of this chapter;
Holding hearings, administering oaths or affirmations, examining any person under oath or affirmation, issuing subpoenas, requiring the attendance and giving of testimony of witnesses, and requiring the production of any books, papers, or documentary or other evidence;
Taking, or causing to be taken, affidavits or depositions within or without the City;
Rendering each year to the Mayor and Council a written report of its activities;
Enforcing the provisions of this chapter and all decisions of the Board to the fullest extent permitted by the Cable Act of 1992; and
Taking such other actions as may be necessary from time to time to protect the right of the City to regulate cable television to the fullest extent permitted by the Cable Act of 1992.
The Board shall regulate basic service rates in accordance with the substantive and procedural provisions of the Cable Act of 1992 and any applicable state law or regulations or local ordinances.
Duties of cable operators.
Within 30 days of receiving written notification from the City that it has been certified by the FCC to regulate rates for basic service and that a Cable Regulation Board has been duly established, a cable operator shall file its schedule of rates for the basic service and associated equipment with the City together with the fee specified by the Board, if any.
At least 30 days prior to increasing its rates for basic service, a cable operator shall file with the City notice of the proposed rate increase, together with the fee specified by the Board, if any.
At the time of filing a schedule of rates or a proposed rate increase with the City, a cable operator shall publish a summary of the rates or rate increase in a local newspaper of general circulation for at least three consecutive days and cablecast a summary of the rates or rate increase on its public information channel at least twice daily at such times as are reasonably expected to reach the largest audience over a three-day period, in each case notifying interested parties that they must submit written comments by a date within 15 days of the cable operator's filing with the City at the address set forth in § 2-505.3C(5).
A cable operator shall comply with all orders of the Board.
Duties of the Board.
Upon receipt of a cable operator's schedule of rates or a proposed rate increase, the Board shall prepare or cause to be prepared a summary of the rate(s) or rate increase(s) on the channel(s) allocated to the City for cablecast at least twice daily at such times as are reasonably expected to reach the largest audience over a three-day period, along with a notice that interested parties shall submit written comments to the Board by a date within 15 days of the cable operator's filing with the City at the address set forth in § 2-505.3C(5).
The Board shall rule on the reasonableness of current basic service rates and proposed rate increases pursuant to the procedural and substantive provisions of the Cable Act of 1992.
In ruling on the reasonableness of current basic service rates or proposed rate increases, the Board shall have the authority to compel the production of proprietary information from cable operators, and, in such circumstances, the Board shall be subject to the confidentiality provisions of the Cable Act of 1992.
The City hereby adopts the minimum customer service standards established by the Cable Act of 1992:
Cable system office hours and telephone availability:
The cable operator will maintain a local, toll-free or collect call telephone access line which will be available to its subscribers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Trained company representatives will be available to respond to customer telephone inquiries during normal business hours. After normal business hours, the access line may be answered by a service or an automated response system, including an answering machine. Inquiries received after normal business hours must be responded to be a trained company representative on the next business day.
Under normal operating conditions, telephone answer time by a customer representative, including wait time, shall not exceed 30 seconds when the connection is made. If the call needs to be transferred, transfer time shall not exceed 30 seconds. These standards shall be met not less than 90% of the time under normal operating conditions, measured on a quarterly basis.
The operator will not be required to acquire equipment or perform surveys to measure compliance with the telephone answering standards above unless a historical record of complaints indicates a clear failure to comply.
Under normal operating conditions, the customer will receive a busy signal less than 3% of the time.
Customer service center and bill payment locations will be open at least during normal business hours and will be conveniently located.
Installations, outages and service calls. Under normal operating conditions, each of the following standards will be met not less than 95% of the time, measured on a quarterly basis:
Standard installations will be performed within seven business days after an order has been placed. Standard installations are those that are located up to 125 feet from the existing distribution system.
Excluding conditions beyond the control of the operator, the cable operator will begin working on service interruptions promptly and in no event later than 24 hours after the interruption becomes known. The cable operator must begin actions to correct other service problems the next business day after notification of the service problem.
The appointment window alternatives for installations, service calls and other installation activities will be either a specific time or, at maximum, a four-hour time block during normal business hours; provided, however, that the operator may schedule service calls and other installation activities outside of normal business hours for the express convenience of the customer.
An operator may not cancel an appointment with a customer after the close of business on the business day prior to the scheduled appointment.
If a cable operator representative is running late for an appointment with a customer and will be unable to keep the appointment as scheduled, the customer will be contacted. The appointment will be rescheduled, as necessary, at a time which is convenient for the customer. If the only time which is convenient for the customer is outside of normal business hours, the cable operator shall charge no more for such rescheduled appointment than it would during normal business hours.
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1-303).
Communications between cable operators and cable subscribers.
The cable operator, upon installation of service, to all subscribers at least annually and at any time upon request, shall provide written information covering each of the following areas:
Products and services offered.
Prices and options for programming services and conditions of subscription to programming and other services.
Installation and service maintenance policies.
Billing and complaint procedures, including the address and telephone number of the local franchise authority's cable office.
Bills will be clear, concise and understandable. Bills must be fully itemized, including but not limited to basic and premium service charges and equipment charges. Bills shall also clearly delineate all activity during a billing period, including optional charges, rebates and credits.
In case of a billing dispute, the cable operator must respond to a written complaint from a subscriber within 30 days.
Credits for service will be issued no later than the customer's next billing cycle following the determination that a credit is warranted.
All other customer service standards, whether established by franchise agreement, state law or regulation or local ordinance, and whether now or hereafter enacted, shall remain in full force and effect to the extent that such other customer service standards are not preempted by the Cable Act of 1992.
In issuing its rulings the Board shall have the full authority granted to it pursuant to the Cable Act of 1992 to order a cable operator to take any and all actions as the law permits, including, without limitation:
Ordering a cable operator to implement a reduction in basic service tier or associated equipment rates where necessary to bring rates into compliance with the standards set forth in the Cable Act of 1992.
Prescribing a reasonable rate for the basic service tier or associated equipment after it determines that a proposed rate is unreasonable.
Ordering a cable operator to refund to subscribers that portion of previously paid rates determined to be in excess of the permitted tier charge or above the actual cost of equipment under the Cable Act of 1992. Before ordering such a refund, however, the Board shall give the cable operator notice of its intention to issue such order and shall give the operator 15 days from the date such notice is given to submit written comments to the Board. Any such refund order shall be further subject to the limitations contained in the Cable Act of 1992.
Ordering the cable operator to issue credits or pay refunds to the subscribers to the cable operator's system.
Filing suit against a cable operator to compel specific performance.
Conducting performance evaluations at the time of renewal of the cable operator's franchise agreement.
Until the Board is duly constituted, the Mayor and the City Clerk are hereby authorized to execute any documents and file such forms as are necessary to obtain certification from the FCC.
All franchise agreements between the City and any cable operator are abrogated to the extent inconsistent herewith, except to the extent abrogation is not required by the Cable Act of 1992 or the regulations promulgated thereunder.
This chapter is enacted under the authority of the Cable Act of 1992, which permits local franchising authorities to regulate cable television basic tier rates and other matters, subject to certain substantive and procedural limitations.
In interpreting and applying the provisions of this chapter, these provisions shall be construed as broadly as required for the maintenance of peace, good government, safety, and welfare of the City, its citizens and its trade, commerce and manufacture.
This chapter is intended to conform to the Cable Act of 1992. If a court of competent jurisdiction declares any provision of this chapter to be in conflict with the said Act, the Act will control to the extent that any provision declared to be in conflict with the Cable Act of 1992 shall not apply. Any ordinance in conflict herewith is hereby repealed.
Any person who violates the provisions of this chapter shall be subject to the general code penalty, § 1-301.99 of these Codified Ordinances.