www.CableAdvisoryCouncil.com

For Charter Communications NW CT Area 19

PO BOX 87, Newtown CT 06470

Email Chairman@CableAdvisoryCouncil.com

 

CABLE ADVISORY COUNCIL CHAIRMAN REPORT

Gregory G. Davis

 

A Secure Future for Community Access Television

 

WHAT IT IS NOW

 

The CPCN  Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity License

Licenses are granted for limited times for Community Antenna and Cable Companies.

Franchise LicenseTerms are negotiated and awarded to companies, including the regulation of buildout/programming/rates/service/non-compete aspects of limited monopoly business operation.

1975-1988;  15 year franchises

1989 forward:  5-10 year franchises

Community Access Television is established 1975-1981.  (16-331a)

$2000 annual fee for Cable Advisory Council Support adopted in 1981.

$200 annual fee to the Statewide Community Antenna Advisory Council Support

 

In 2007, moving forward after the adoption of PA07-253; two new operating licenses are created.  (CVFA & CCFA).  CPCN licences expire in all PURA Map area Franchises which receive competitive video service from a CVFA.  (ATT authored legislation)

 

The CVFA - Certificate of Video Franchise Authority License

open ended, no fixed expiration, no rate regulation

$1000 application fee

Must carry Community Access programming (16-331h)

Must collect Community Access subscriber fees as per 16-331a(k).  (16-331h)

Must fund the Statewide Video Advisory Council with $2000 annual fee (16-331i)

Must meet with the SVAC at least 2x per year (16-331i)

Must include SVAC information with billing at least 2x per year (16-331i)

Must Pay a Gross Earnings Tax (CGS12-256), not to exceed $5 million annually, into the Municipal video competition trust account which is distributed by the State anually to the towns & cities served  (16-331bb).

Must Pay a Gross Earnings Tax to Fund the PEGPETIA account  (CGS 16-331cc)

 

The CCFA - Certificate of Cable Franchise Authority

open ended, no fixed expiration, no rate regualtion,

$1000 application fee;  CPCN is terminated if CVFA operation is available in the territory

Must comply with 16-331s; which brings forward all provisions

of CGS16-331a - Community Access Programming and Operations,

excluding only subsections (j) & (m).  CGS16-333 (c ) is also linked(hearing imparied) , including

  Must collect Community Access subscriber fees,

  Must fund the Designated Community Access Provider.

  Must fund the Cable Advisory Council with $2000 annual fee.

  Must meet with the Cable Advisory Council at least 2x per year

  Must include Cable Advisory Council information with billing at least 2x per year

  Must Pay a Gross Earnings Tax to Fund the PEGPETIA account  (CGS 16-331cc)

 

Competetive Video Services Introduction Changes Regulation

 

1.  A CVFA license holder is relieved of ALL reponsibilities performed by the Designated Community Access Provider (CGS 16-331a - all subsections a-o, except k).   CVFA license holders only collect the community access subscriber fees to and pass them to the Designated Community Access Provider. (16-331a(k).

 

2.  The CPCN License holders were the original Designated Community Access Providers, unless the Designated Community Access Provider Status has been transferred to a qualified third party not-for-profit organization within the specified Franchise territory. The CCFA licensee which replaces the CPCN license in the region if a qualified CVFA licensee is operating in the same region.

 

3.  The State of CT is currently divided into CABLE FRANCHISE Territorities, organized into 24 physical map areas of the State.  These 24 remaining Franchise territories are the PURA specified map area COMMUNITY ACCESS Regions.  Most of the 24 Franchise territories have been relicenced as CCFA businesses, allowing for the transition to competitive video services, and a continuity of Community Access Provider Programming and Operations.  Requiring Statewide (ATT) operation of a competitive Community Access programming Providers in the 24 regions would be redundant, and illogical.

 

4.  An additional CVFA was awarded to Thames Valley for a small 3 town operation in 2009.  This is hardly a "STATEWIDE" video provider.  There is nothing that specifically prevents a License holder for submitting an application for an the "WRONG" license.  It was only assumed that a legacy cable operation would apply for the CCFA, and not the CVFA.  Not to forgeting that Cablevision is NOT a "STATEWIDE" video provider either.  Even ATT has difficulty measuring up to the concept of "Statewide" Provider.  The Electric Power Companies have the opportunity to provide "Statewide" competitive video services, but technology is not on their side to make it a profitible reality.

 

5.  A CCFA or CVFA license holder can sell, or transfer their license at will.  A license is cancelled voluntarily by the holder, or revoked by the State for failure to comply with the law.

 

6.  The CCFA license holder can apply for a new CCFA or CVFA which consolidates franchise territories.  Comcast (14 iof the 24 regions) is moving forward in this process of consolidation.

 

7.  A CCFA license holder can apply for a new CVFA license, and simply let the CCFA lapse… Cox (areas R12, R15 & R17) is currently in the position to do this.

 

 

WHAT WENT WRONG

 

1.  It was assumed that incumbent cable company operators would apply for the new CCFA upon the entry of ATT with the CVFA into their local markets.

 

2.  Cablevision (PURA Map regions 1, 2, 20) decided against the CCFA license application, and instead applied for the CVFA(s) upon ATT entry into their market franchise areas. Cablevision Merged two PURA map areas together R1 & R2, under ONE CVFA license application.  Cablevision applied for another CVFA for PURA map area R20.   PURA (aka DPUC at the time) incorrectly awarded the CVFA licenses to Cablevision instead of the CCFA which were the correct license to replace the CPCN which expired upon ATT entry into their market.

 

3.  The Cablevision action was unprecedented, and unexpected by the PURA (DPUC).  The CVFA license was promtly awarded as required by law, as it was unclear at the time that there would be unexpected negative consequences to this distortion of the intent of PA07-253.

 

4.  A hugely negative, antisocial, divisive, wildly expensive waste of public fees collected for community access have been spent litigating the legal consequences, instead of promoting the secure future for Community Access Television.   Most directly affected have been the Community Access Providers in the PURA areas 1 & 2.  Attempts at rectification resulted in a Patch of expensive Legislation in 2009, which is completely obfuscatory to any lay person as to spirit, or real intent… (CGS 16-331ff & 16-331gg) which does not address the core issue.   A current lawsuit docket HHD-CV12-6034434-S is currently being litigated by spending more Community Access Subscriber fees to test the constitutionality of these specific statutes, with the next legal decision to be rendered in June 2013.  This case is lilkely bound for the CT Supreme Court.

 

 

WHY THE FUTURE OF COMMUNITY ACCESS IS AT RISK

 

1.  The Designated Community Access Provider territories are fixed per the original cable franchise territorities.  Commercial operator territory consolidation does not erase the Community Access Provider PURA map areas.  The Designated Community Access Providers are LOSING their Cable Advisory Councils who are dedicated to promoting a secure future for Community Access Television Programming & Operations.

 

 

 

 

2.  The Designated Community Access Provider operations become independently and separately funded entities in principle after the introduction of ATT as a Statewide Video Provider.  Customers for video services normally select One provider.  ,  Community Access Subscriber Fees will be collected Independent of the service provider choice and be delivered to the Designated Community Access Provider for the financial support of Programming and Operations.  The Funding basis for Community Access Television would remains intact, independently of customer choice of video services provider.

 

3.  A Cable Advisory Council is married by CT Law to each Designated Community Access Provider; and has a serious complement of responsibilities to carry out its Prime Directive Mission:  To promote a secure future for Community Access Television.

 

4.  The Statewide Video Advisory Council, is Married to the Cable Advisory Councils in a special way:  By CT law the Statewide Video Advisory Council members must must be appointed by the existing cable advisory councils (CGS16-331i).

 

5.  When a CPCN Franchise territory Licensee converts to a CVFA license,  the Cable Advisory Council ceases to exist,  and the Designated Community Access Provider which was sponsored by the legacy Cable Company, legally ceases to exist.

 

6.  The Future membership of the Statewide Video Advisory Council could very well be populated by GHOSTS from the legacy Cable Advisory Councils which no longer exist from any Consolidated CCFA territory, or from any Cable territory which changes colors and calls themselves a Statewide video provider under the CVFA license.   An example; Map area 19 Lost an Advisory Council which used to serve the 5 towns in the Northern area (Barkhamsted, Winsted, Colebrook, Harwinton, New Hartford) when Charter Communications consolidated the separate CPCN licenses under one CCFA in 2008.  

 

7.  This conundrum is confounding a secure future for Community Access Television.  The repercussions from this permitted distortion have created enemies between volunteer community access providers, producers, and has inspired some seriously questionable behaviour on the part of the legacy Cable Companies which have retained their status as the Designated Community Access Provider.

 

8.  Cable Advisory Councils are married to Designated Community Access providers.  Separate Designated Community Access production facilities often remain, under one consolidated license - Minus an advisory council, or worse, expecting an advisory council to effetively participate with its client in a different cable distribution area over a distant geographical distance.

 

9.  Cable Advisory Councils are on the endangered species list…. Due to CCFA territory consolidations, or converstions of CCFA licenses to CVFA licenses.

 

10.  The Statewide Advisory Council is on the endangered species list… Due to the shrinking pool of available Member seats….

 

11.  The Designated Community Access Providers are endangered species as they are pressured to consolidate into centralized production centers serving ever larger geographical areas in the interest of cost savings.

 

HOW TO FIX THIS MESS

 

1.  Is this intellectual and argumentative challenge that needs a wayback ride to visit with King Solomon?  I have soul searched this question for a full year, and proposed the riddle to a number of deeply knowlegable champions.  Our opportunity to move forward must comply to legislative and regulatory calendars.

2.  Propose Regulatory Response: 

 

A reference note from ATT's  HB6402 Statement of Purpose: To eliminate (2) the authority's power to reclassify as noncompetitive a competitive service, …

 

This Particular Provision was struck from the HB6402 by the E&T Joint Committee, but it shows that ATT legal team believes that PURA has the authority to do exactly that.   Following that legal logic, PURA powers that could be used to address this mess quite directly;

 

Exercise Public Utility Regulatory Authority to reclassify the improperly issued CVFA licenses as CCFA licenses.

 

3.  Propose legislative response: 

 

The CVFA license holder must demonstrate ablility to provide competitive video services to at least 51% of the CT State Population, and covering a total territory of at least 13 of the 24 PURA map areas.  If this standard cannot be demonstrated, the CVFA will be Reclassified as a CCFA operation. 

 

The designated Community Access Provider Operation and its associated Cable Advisory Council is linked to the PURA map area designation of the 24 regions, independent of Commercial Cable Operator consolidations within CT.   

 

Conclusion; this is a critical work in progress.