September 2, 2014
On Thursday, Aug. 28, the California Public Utilities Commission issued a decision rules to establish the rules that holders of state video franchises (such as Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, AT&T and others) must follow to obtain renewal of their franchises issued pursuant to the Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act of 2006 (DIVCA).
The League originally reported on the issue in CA Cities Advocate on June 19.
Against the request of local governments and the Office of Ratepayer Advocates (ORA), the CPUC has adopted a streamlined renewal procedure, which means that there will be little review of each renewal application submitted, provided that it is complete. The ORA will be allowed to submit comments on whether the application is complete as well as the existence of any violations of any nonappeable court orders.
DIVCA shifted cable franchising from the local to the state level. When it issued its first order implementing DIVCA, the CPUC acknowledged that DIVCA could be read to contemplate renewal proceedings which are largely automatic. The CPUC recognized but did not resolve the potential conflict with the renewal provisions of the federal Cable Act, which contemplate that renewal franchises will satisfy future, local, cable-related needs and interests.
Applications for rehearing of the decision must be filed within 30 days after the date the Commission mails the decision. After that date, cities will not have the opportunity to mount a challenge the CPUC’s interpretation of state law and the renewal process at a later date. As each renewal is reviewed, the streamlined process will be followed. The League will be consulting with cities to gauge the interest in submitting an application.