[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Warren 12-13-1993 by Ord. No. 1573 (Ch. 13, Part 2, of the 1997 Code of Ordinances). Amendments noted where applicable.]
Short title. This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "City of Warren Cable Television Ordinance."
Amendment. Ordinance No. 1388, an ordinance authorizing the Borough of Warren to enter into a franchise agreement with Warner Amex Cable Communications, Inc., is amended as hereinafter provided. All franchise agreements between the City and cable operators are abrogated to the extent, and only to the extent, inconsistent herewith, except to the extent abrogation is not required by the Federal Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992, or the regulations promulgated thereunder.
Purpose. The purpose of this chapter is to regulate cable television in the exercise of the power of the City to:
Federal law. This chapter is enacted under the Federal Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992, which permits local franchising authorities to regulate cable television, subject to certain substantive and procedural limitations.
Interpretation. In interpreting and applying the provisions of this chapter, these provisions shall be construed broadly as required for the maintenance of peace, good government, safety and welfare of the City, and its trade, commerce and manufactures.
Severability. If a court of competent jurisdiction declares any provisions of this chapter to be invalid or ineffective, in whole or in part, the effect of such decision shall be limited to those provisions which are expressly stated in the decision to be invalid or ineffective, and all other provisions of this chapter shall continue to be separately and fully effective.
Conflict with federal law. It is the intent of the City Council that this chapter conform to the federal law. If a court of competent jurisdiction declares any provision of this chapter to be in conflict with the federal law, the federal law will control and this chapter, to the extent that any provision is declared to be in conflict with the federal law, shall not apply.
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. Equipment shall include, but not be limited to:
- BASIC SERVICE
- 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, education and governmental programming required by the franchise to be carried on the basic tier, and any additional video programming signals as a service added to the basic tier by the cable operator.
- BASIC SERVICE RATE
- The rate charged by a cable operator for basic service and associated equipment and costs.
- CABLE OPERATOR
- Any person or group of persons:
- 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.
- FEDERAL LAW
- The Federal Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984, as amended by the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992, and all regulations promulgated by the FCC thereunder, as any of the foregoing may be amended from time to time.
- The Federal Communications Commission.
Duties of compliance officer. The compliance officer shall be responsible for:
Taking such action on behalf of the City as may from time to time be required to obtain or maintain the City's certification to regulate basic service rates.
Notifying all cable operators servicing the City when the City has been certified by the FCC to regulate basic service rates.
Notifying all cable operators serving the City that the City intends to enforce the minimum customer service standards established by the federal law.
Making all filings required or permitted to be made to the FCC by the City pursuant to the federal law, subject to oversight and control of the City Council.
Receiving, filing in the public records of the City, reviewing for completeness and placing on the City Council's agenda for consideration, all submissions, petitions and other filings required or permitted to be made to the City pursuant to the federal law.
Receiving any filing fees paid pursuant to this chapter. The filing fees shall be as set by resolution of City Council from time to time.
Enforcing the provisions of this chapter and all regulations hereunder.
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 federal law.
Regulation of basic service rates. The City Council shall regulate basic service rates in accordance with the provisions of the federal law 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 the City has been certified by the FCC to regulate rates for the basic service, a cable operator shall file its schedule of rates for the basic service and associated equipment with the City, together with any fee that may be specified by resolution of the City Council.
At least 30 days prior to increasing its rates for the basic service, a cable operator shall notify each subscriber of the proposed rate increase and shall file a notice of its proposed rate increase with the City, together with any fee that may be specified by resolution of the City Council.
At the time of filing a schedule of rates or a proposed rate increase with the City, a cable operator shall: a) publish a summary of the rates or rate increase in a local newspaper for at least three consecutive days; and b) 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 certain (within 15 days of the cable operator's filing with the City) to the City, directed to the compliance officer.
A cable operator shall comply with all orders of the City, except that a cable operator shall not be required to comply with an order if the cable operator demonstrates that complying with the order would require the cable operator to disclose proprietary information.
Duties of the City. The City shall make any decision on the reasonableness of current basic service rates and proposed rate increases pursuant to the procedural and substantive provisions of the federal law.
Enforcement. In rendering its decisions, the City Council shall have the full authority granted to it pursuant to the federal law to order a cable operator to take any and all actions as the federal 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 federal law.
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, unless the operator has submitted a cost-of-service showing which justifies the rate charged as reasonable. Before ordering such a refund, however, the City shall give the operator notice and shall give the operator 15 days from the date such notice is given to submit written comments to the City. Any such refund order shall be further subject to the limitations contained in the federal law.
Penalties. In the event that a cable operator does not comply with a decision made pursuant to this chapter and directed specifically toward the cable operator, the City may assess a fine against the cable operator as may be set by resolution of the City Council from time to time.
Minimum customer service standards adopted. It is the intent of the City to enforce the following minimum customer service standards in the manner established by the federal law:
Cable system office hours and telephone availability. The cable operator will maintain a local, toll-tree or collect-call telephone access line which will be available to its subscribers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Installations, outages and service calls. Under normal operating conditions, the cable operator shall comply with each of the following standards:
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 action to correct other service problems the next business day after notification of the service problem.
Communications between cable operators and cable subscribers.
Notifications to subscribers. The cable operator shall provide written information on each of the following areas at the time of installation of service, at least annually to all subscribers, and at any time upon request:
Products and services offered.
Prices and options for programming services and conditions of subscription to programming and other services.
Installation and service maintenance policies.
Instructions on how to use the cable service.
Channel positions of programming carried on the system.
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 with itemizations including, but not limited to, basic and premium service charges and equipment charges. Bills will also clearly delineate all activity during the 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. Credits for service will be issued no later than the customer's next billing cycle following the determination that a credit is warranted.
Definitions. As used in this section, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- NORMAL BUSINESS HOURS
- Those hours during which most similar businesses in the community are open to serve customers.
- 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 or one or more cable channels.
Enforcement. In furtherance thereof, the compliance officer, 90 days after giving notice to the cable operators of the City's intent to enforce these standards, shall have the authority and responsibility to enforce these standards to the fullest extent permitted by the federal law and in accordance with all substantive and procedural requirements of the federal law. In furtherance thereof, the compliance officer may make any and all such orders and assess any and all such penalties for violations of these standards as are permitted by the federal law, subject to the oversight and control of the City Council, including, without limitation:
Other customer service standards not affected. 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 federal law.