Home » Consumer News »Public Policy & Gov't »Reuters » Currently Reading:

FCC Moves to Make Cable TV Franchise Fee Rules More Cable Industry Friendly

Phillip Dampier August 7, 2019 Consumer News, Public Policy & Gov't, Reuters No Comments

WASHINGTON, Aug 1 (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week voted 3-2 to tighten rules governing the franchise fees paid by cable companies to local authorities, a move that cities warn could result in public access channels going off the air or in municipalities losing free service.

Congress previously capped the franchise fees that cable operators pay for using public property, among other factors, at 5% of gross revenue on cable bills. The FCC vote requires non-financial “in kind” contributions made by cable operators must be assigned a value and counted against the cap.

Those costs that now must be counted against the cap include contributions for public, educational, and government access channels, institutional networks and other services like free cable for municipal buildings.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said “every dollar paid in excessive fees is a dollar that by definition cannot and will not be invested in upgrading and expanding networks.”

Cable operators pay roughly $3 billion annually in franchise fees to state and local governments.

New York told the FCC all city fire stations get free cable and internet service from cable providers.

“There are no viable alternative services available to the city. The only potential long-term solution would be to build a parallel network which will take years and cost a massive amount of money,” the city said in a July 25 letter.

Milton, Massachusetts, which noted it uses an institutional network for police and school security cameras and municipal internet access, said it could lose government access channel programming.

Pai

The FCC also voted Thursday to bar municipalities from regulating or imposing fees on most non-cable services, including broadband Internet service.

NCTA – the Internet & Television Association representing major cable companies like Comcast Corp, Charter Communications Inc and Cox Communications Inc – said the vote “will help promote broadband investment, deployment, and innovation, to the benefit of all Americans.”

FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said “free or discounted service to cash-strapped schools, provision of critical (institutional network service), discounts to vulnerable communities … are a small imposition given the value received by providers.”

He added it “risks causing grave harm to local communities.”

Republicans commissioners point out that cable companies have been forced to fund other events like ice cream socials or offer free service for government-owned golf courses.

Local communities including Atlanta, Boston, Dallas and Los Angeles told the FCC in a joint statement local governments will “be forced to make difficult decisions about reductions in service (i.e., coverage of governmental meetings, community media, and broadband to schools) or increases in local revenue sources.”

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Bernadette Baum

Leave a Reply

avatar

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
Notify of

Search This Site:

Contributions:

Recent Comments:

  • WHE: Just an FYI. A few days ago, I downgraded my Internet service from ultra to standard and they pro-rated my bill. Maybe I got lucky, but I suspect they...
  • Joe: You never bought into it, yet here you are posting comments via the Internet....
  • Jason Paiva: Yea, DOESNT WORK! I've spent years and dozens if attempts at plugging in my info, being told it could take 45-60days and continuing to get mailers. ...
  • pug: Spectrum just raised our rate from 65.99 to 69.99 here in southern Oregon for internet only. Price gouging extortionists!...
  • Nick: The coax shield might be grounded lower down, close to where it enters the house....
  • Tom: That is very bad business..cancelled my cable tv 2 days in of the billing cycle and told me I would have to pay for the services for the entire month....
  • B Woods: The image at the top of the article is a failed install. No #10 copper ground/bonding wire for lightning protection. Insurance company’s love t...
  • Amestris: You should enter your address online and see if it comes up. I was told I didn't qualify either but when I looked on their website I in fact did. My f...
  • Stuart Matelsky: Stay away from altice if you know what is good. They take your money, thats it...
  • Stuart Matelsky: Stay away unless you have low blood pressure...
  • Jonathan Wood: Nice. So instead of wireline broadband like they promised in NY, I'm sure they're going to start pushing this wireless crap as "last mile fixes" for p...
  • Steve Copeland: I got a $32 a month increase with no notice or explanation. $384/yr increase....

Your Account: