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CPUC Launches Rulemaking on State Video Franchise Renewal

League Requests Party Status and Time Extension

June 19, 2013
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) launched a proceeding on May 31 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 has requested to join the service list as a party in the proceeding late last week and, formally asked for an extension of all time deadlines to submit comments. The extension was granted today. Comments are due July 22 with replies due Aug. 12.

DIVCA shifted cable franchising from the local to the state level. CPUC acknowledged when issuing its first implementation order that DIVCA could be read to contemplate renewal proceedings that are largely automatic. It recognized but did not resolve the potential conflict with the renewal provisions of the federal Cable Act that contemplates that renewal franchises will satisfy future, local, cable-related needs and interests.  
To address this tension in this rulemaking the CPUC seeks comment on:
  • The appropriate procedures for the renewal process;
  • The timing of renewal applications;
  • Whether the Legislature has identified all the video-related obligations that video service providers must fulfill in relationship to communities encompassed within a video service provider’s franchise both with respect to an initial franchise and one subject to renewal;
  • Whether the Legislature intended to limit the role of individual communities in the renewal process; and
  • Whether there are irreconcilable differences between DIVCA and federal law and what alternatives would ensure consistency with federal law.
Once comments are received, CPUC may hold a prehearing conference before issuing a Scoping Memorandum outlining the schedule and issues to be considered in the proceeding. 
Cities may request to be on the service list so that they receive notice of the proceedings. Cities considering forming coalitions to participate in these proceedings may wish to request to be on the service list.
Best Best & Krieger, LLP provided some of the information in this article and is assisting the League to request the time extensions.

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