"On Aug. 1, the Federal Communications Commission ruled, by a 3-2 vote, that cable-related, in-kind contributions required by local franchising authorities from cable operators are in fact franchise fees subject to the statutory 5% cap.Continue reading the article online
The FCC ruled that the definition of “in-kind, cable-related contributions” includes “any non-monetary contributions … including but not limited to free or discounted cable service to public buildings, costs in support of PEG [Public, Educational and Governmental] access other than capital costs, and costs attributable to the construction of I-Nets. It does not include the costs of complying with build-out and customer service requirements.”
The FCC’s Third Report and Order on Cable Franchising Fees largely adopts the tentative conclusions of the Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, issued last September. The decision runs counter to the flood of concerns the FCC received during the public comment period about its tentative conclusions.
The National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors said the Aug. 1 ruling “provides a windfall to largely monopoly cable companies on the backs of local communities,” adding that the commission “decided to drastically rewrite federal law and wipe out 35 years of cable franchise agreements that had been negotiated based on mutual understanding of what the law meant.”
|“This vote represents a serious misinterpretation of FCC authority"|