Don't expect a chance to challenge California-wide cable franchise renewals

24 June 2014 by Steve Blum
, , ,

Stifle yourself.

The first statewide cable franchises issued by the California Public Utilities Commission will start expiring in the next three or four years. Those franchises superseded local video service franchises issued individually by cities and counties and run for ten years. To get ready for that, the commission is scheduled to vote on new renewal rules at its meeting on Thursday, 26 June 2014.

The proposal on the table now says, in essence, the same rules apply to renewals as to the original applications, with one exception: companies that are “in violation of any final nonappealable court order issued pursuant to California video franchise law” will lose their franchises. Once a renewal application is filed, there will be an extremely limited opportunity for the public to comment on just that specific point…

The public, including [the CPUC’s office of ratepayer advocates] may submit written comments within 15 days from the date the Application has been served. Comments must be limited to whether the Applicant is in violation of a non-appealable court order issued pursuant to the Digital Information and Video Competition Act (Cal. Pub. Code §§ 5800 et seq.) and must be accompanied by a court order supporting the existence of such a violation.

There are any number of requirements a cable or telephone has to meet in order to get a statewide franchise and to subsequently renew it, but you can’t comment on that, or if you do, you’ll be ignored. The only way to contest a renewal on those grounds is to file a complaint with the commission and/or go to court years ahead of time, and then hope that the decision is final and in your favor when the 15 day protest window opens.