[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Maplewood 11-15-2010 by Ord. No. 2650-10. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Ch. A335, Cable Television Franchise, adopted 7-5-1995 by Ord. No. 1974, as amended.
The municipality hereby grants to Comcast of New Jersey II, LLC ("Comcast"), subject to the terms and conditions of this chapter and upon the condition that Comcast shall accept the provisions of this chapter and confirm, in writing, that it shall comply with all of the commitments, renewal of its nonexclusive municipal consent to place in, upon, across, above, over and under highways, streets, alleys, sidewalks, easements, public ways and public places in the municipality, poles, wires, cables, underground conduits, manholes and other television conductors, fixtures, apparatus and equipment as may be necessary for the construction, operation and maintenance in the municipality of a cable television and communications system.
For the purpose of this chapter, the following terms, phrases, words and their derivations shall have the meaning given herein. Such meaning or definition of terms is supplemental to those definitions of the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") rules and regulations, 47 C.F.R. Subsection 76.1 et seq., and the Cable Communications Policy Act, 47 U.S.C. Section 521 et seq., as amended, and the Cable Television Act, N.J.S.A. 48:5A-1 et seq., and those regulations of the State of New Jersey Board of Regulatory Commissioners relating to cable television, N.J.A.C. 14:17-1.1 et seq., and 14:18-1.1 et seq., as amended, and shall in no way be construed to broaden, alter or conflict with the federal and state definitions:
- ACT or CABLE TELEVISION ACT
- Chapter 186 of the General Laws of New Jersey, and subsequent amendments thereto, N.J.S.A. 48:5A-1 et seq.
- The company's application for renewal of municipal consent.
- BASIC CABLE SERVICE
- Any service tier, which includes the retransmission of local television broadcast signals as defined by the FCC.
- BOARD or BPU
- The Board of Public Utilities, State of New Jersey.
- The grantee of rights under this chapter and is known as "Comcast of New Jersey II, LLC."
- The Federal Communications Commission.
- OFFICE or OCTV
- The Office of Cable Television of the Board.
- PRIMARY SERVICE AREA or PSA
- Consists of the area of the municipality currently served with existing plant as set forth in the map annexed to the company's application for municipal consent.
- TOWN or MUNICIPALITY
- The Township of Maplewood, County of Essex, State of New Jersey.
Public hearings conducted by the municipality, concerning the renewal of municipal consent herein granted to the company, were held after proper public notice pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Act and the regulations of the Board adopted pursuant thereto. Said hearings, having been fully open to the public, and the municipality, having received at said public hearings all comments regarding the qualifications of the company to receive this renewal of municipal consent, the municipality hereby finds that the company possesses the necessary legal, technical, character, financial and other qualifications and that the company's operating and construction arrangements are adequate and feasible, and shall provide a reasonable assurance of meeting the Township's future cable-related needs.
The nonexclusive municipal consent granted herein shall expire 15 years from the date of expiration of the previous certificate of approval issued by the Board.
In the event that the municipality shall find that the company has not substantially complied with the material terms and conditions of this chapter, the municipality shall have the right to petition the OCTV, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 48:5A-47, for appropriate action, including modification and/or termination of the certificate of approval; provided, however, that the municipality shall first have given the company written notice of all alleged instances of noncompliance and an opportunity to cure same within 90 days of that notification.
Pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Act, the company shall, during each year of operation under the consent granted herein, pay to the municipality 2% of the gross revenues from all recurring charges in the nature of subscription fees paid by subscribers for cable television reception service in the municipality or any higher amount required by the Act or otherwise allowable by law, whichever is greater. Only in the event that applicable law hereafter permits a larger franchise fee to be collected, but does not fix the amount thereof, the Township and Comcast shall negotiate in good faith with respect to the amount thereof.
The consent granted under this chapter to the renewal of the franchise shall apply to the entirety of the municipality and any property subsequently annexed hereto.
The company shall be required to proffer service to any residence or business along any public right-of-way in the primary service area, as set forth in the company's application. The company's Line Extension Policy, as set forth in the company's application, shall govern any extension of plant beyond the primary service area.
Comcast will comply with all lawful rules and regulations governing the operation of its cable television system and cable communications system within the Township of Maplewood. If any referenced regulations are deemed unlawful by a court of competent jurisdiction or superseded by a duly enacted state or federal statute or regulation, Comcast will not be bound by such regulation, nor will the company be bound by any provision of the municipal consent ordinance or renewal certificate of approval with regard to same. Comcast reserves the right to seek administrative or judicial review of the validity of any statute, regulation or ordinance.
Restoration. In the event that the company or its agents shall disturb any pavement, street surfaces, sidewalks, driveways, or other surface in the natural topography, the company shall, at its sole expense, restore and replace such places or things so disturbed in as good a condition as existed prior to the commencement of said work.
Relocation. If, at any time during the period of this consent, the municipality shall alter or change the grade of any street, alley or other way or place, the company, upon reasonable notice by the municipality, shall remove, re-lay or relocate its equipment, at the expense of the company. The company shall, at the request of the municipality, temporarily raise, lower or remove its lines in order to facilitate the moving of buildings or machinery or other like circumstances, at the expense of the company.
Removal or trimming of trees. During the exercise of its rights and privileges under this franchise, the company shall have the authority to trim trees upon and overhanging streets, alleys, sidewalks or other public places of the municipality so as to prevent the branches of such trees from coming in contact with the wires and cable of the company. Such trimming shall be only to the extent necessary to maintain proper clearance of the company's wire and cables.
In providing services to its customers, the company shall comply with N.J.A.C. 14:18-1 et seq. and all applicable state and federal statutes and regulations. The company shall strive to meet or exceed all voluntary company and industry standards in the delivery of customer service and shall be prepared to report on it to the municipality upon written request of the municipality Administrator or Clerk.
The company shall continue to comply fully with all applicable state and federal statutes and regulations regarding credit for outages, the reporting of same to regulatory agencies and notification of same to customers.
The company shall continue to fully comply with all applicable state and federal statutes and regulations regarding the availability of devices for the hearing impaired and the notification of same to customers.
The company shall use every reasonable effort to meet or exceed voluntary standards for telephone accessibility developed by the National Cable Television Association (NCTA).
Nothing herein shall impair the right of any subscriber or the municipality to express any comment with respect to telephone accessibility to the Complaint Officer or impair the right of the Complaint Officer to take any action that is permitted under law.
The Township Administrator is hereby designed as the Complaint Officer for the municipality pursuant to N.J.S.A. 48:5A-26. All complaints shall be received and processed in accordance with N.J.A.C. 14:17-6.5. All complaints shall be in writing, signed by the subscriber, and shall state the names and addresses of both the complainant and the party complained of, as well as the essential facts upon which the complaint is based, including the dates of acts or omissions complained of and attempts, if any, by the subscriber to resolve the complaint directly. The Complaint Officer will bring the matter to the attention of the party complained of and will request that party to submit a response to the complaint. The Complaint Officer shall review the complaint response, shall attempt an amicable adjustment of the dispute and shall report the results to all parties within 30 days of receipt of the complaint. The complaint shall be without prejudice to the rights of any party to file a petition pursuant to the Cable Television Act.
Comcast will provide quarterly notice to the residents of the Township informing them that the Township Administrator is the Complaint Officer. The municipality shall have the right to request copies of records and reports pertaining to complaints by municipality customers from the OCTV.
During the term of this franchise, and any renewal thereof, the company shall maintain a business office or agent in accordance with N.J.A.C. 14:18-5.1 for the purpose of receiving, investigating and resolving all local complaints regarding the quality of service, equipment malfunctions, and similar matters. Such a business office shall have a publicly listed toll-free telephone number and be open during standard business hours, and in no event (excepting emergency circumstances) less than 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
During the life of the franchise, the company shall give to the municipality a bond in the amount of $25,000. Such bond shall be to insure the faithful performance of all undertakings of the company as represented in its application for municipal consent incorporated herein, and in the commitments.
The rates of the company shall be subject to regulation as permitted by law.
The company shall continue to provide residents with a systemwide public access channel maintained by the company. Qualified individuals and organizations may utilize public access for the purpose of cablecasting noncommercial access programming in conformance with the company's published public access rules.
The company shall continue to provide a systemwide leased access channel maintained by the company for the purpose of cablecasting commercial access programming in conformance with the company's guideline and applicable state and federal statutes and regulations.
The company shall continue to provide a dedicated local access channel maintained by the company for the purpose of cablecasting noncommercial access programming in conformance with the company's guideline and applicable state and federal statutes and regulations.
The company shall take any steps that are necessary to ensure that the signals originated on the access channels are carried without material degradation and with a signal whose quality is equal to that of the other standard channels that the company transmits.
The company shall provide scheduled technical assistance at any PEG designee's hub site and studio, which will include a visit for the purposes of providing adjustment and diagnostic services on an "as needed" basis within 24 hours of notice.
The company shall make available to the Township on an availability and scheduled basis a mobile production vehicle for the purpose of producing noncommercial community governmental or educational access programming, consistent with company's written rules and regulations on use of said vehicle. The company shall provide basic training to uses of production vehicle and will provide other technical assistance and training upon written request for local residents for the purpose of producing PEG access programming, to the extent that the company offers such technical assistance and training.
The company shall provide standard installation and basic cable television service on one outlet at no cost to each school in the municipality, public and private, elementary, intermediate and secondary, provided that the school is within 200 feet of active cable distribution plant. Each additional outlet installed, if any, shall be paid for on a materials/equipment plus labor basis by the school requesting service. Monthly service charges shall be waived on all additional outlets.
The company shall provide standard installation and basic cable television service at no cost on one outlet to each of the following municipal facilities: all police, fire, emergency management facilities, Township Hall, the Department of Public Works facility, and each public library; and the Senior Citizen Drop-in Center at Maplecrest Park, Unity Auditorium at the Civic House at Memorial Park, 124 Dunnell Road, DeHart Community Center, 120 Burnett Avenue, 1978 Maplewood Arts Center, 1978 Springfield Avenue, and the Burgdorff Cultural Center, 10-12 Durand Road, provided that the facilities are located within 200 feet of active cable distribution plant. Each additional outlet installed, if any, shall be paid for on a materials plus labor basis by the municipality. Monthly service charges shall be waived on all additional outlets.
The company shall provide standard installation of one free nonnetworked Internet connection via high-speed cable modem on one outlet in each public library facility and in each public or private elementary, middle or secondary school. Connections at all facilities outlined in this section shall be accessible to student or patron use and cannot be restricted to administrative use. All facilities must be within 200 feet of active cable distribution plant.
If, at any time during the franchise, the Township makes a written request to the company for a second dedicated local access channel and return line, the company shall make the requested channel operational within one year of receipt of the written request. The second local access channel will be a digital channel and will require digital equipment to be viewed by customers. The company shall also provide within one year, at no cost to the municipality, an additional channel return line at a location of the Township's choosing. The channel return line must be within 200 feet of active cable distribution plant.
Within 90 days of the issuance of a renewal certificate of approval by the OCTV, the company shall provide to the municipality a one-time grant in the amount of $45,000 for access-related needs.
The company shall publish its toll-free number on every monthly bill.
The company shall, within 90 days of the company's receipt of a customer complaint made by a resident of the Township, provide to the Township a copy of the complaint along with a statement of the company's resolution of the complaint.
The company shall provide and offer customer communications options regarding service, billing, installations and complaints that are efficient and economical and in accordance with N.J.A.C. 14:18-3.3 ("Customer information") and N.J.A.C. 14:18-3.4 ("Information on company's schedule of prices, rates, terms and conditions").
At the request of the Township, the company and the Township's designee shall meet at least annually to review all matters relating to cable television in the Township, with the minutes of such meetings to be delivered to the company and to be filed with the Township.
The company will comply with the Emergency Alert System (EAS) rules in accordance with applicable state and federal statutes and regulations, which includes the capability to permit the broadcasting of emergency messages by municipal governing bodies.
The company shall in no way be held liable for any injury suffered by the municipality or any other person, during an emergency, if for any reason the municipality is unable to make full use of the cable television system as contemplated herein.
The company shall at all times maintain a comprehensive general liability insurance policy with a single limit amount of $1,000,000 covering liability for any death, personal injury, property damages or other liability arising out of its construction and operation of the cable television system, and an excess liability (or "umbrella") policy in the amount of $5,000,000.
All of the statements and commitments contained in the application or annexed thereto and incorporated therein, and any amendment thereto, except as modified herein, are binding upon the company as terms and conditions of this consent. The application and other relevant writings submitted by the company shall be annexed hereto and made a part hereof by reference, provided that same do not conflict with applicable state or federal law.
Should the municipality grant a franchise to construct, operate and maintain a cable television system to any other person, corporation or entity on terms materially less burdensome or more favorable than the terms contained herein, the company may substitute such language that is more favorable or less burdensome for the comparable provision of this chapter subject to the provisions of N.J.A.C. 14:17-6.7.
Nothing in this franchise or in any prior agreement is or was intended to confer third-party beneficiary status on any member of the public to enforce the terms of such agreements or franchise.