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Video Franchising 

Background

On September 29, 2006, Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law Assembly Bill (AB) 2987 (P.U. Code section 5850), the Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act of 2006 (DIVCA).  DIVCA substantially preempted the ability of individual municipalities to grant cable operating franchises (and renewals) to entities seeking statewide video franchises/operating authority.  

DIVCA designated the CPUC as the appropriate regulatory agency to issue statewide franchises, which are valid for 10 years and then require renewal. The statute also authorizes ORA to advocate on behalf of video subscribers in renewal proceedings.  

In 2007, the CPUC established rules for granting franchises in General Order 169 in compliance with AB 2987.  

CPUC Rulemaking for Franchise Renewal Rules

In May 2013, the CPUC opened the DIVCA Rulemaking to establish rules for renewing franchises. On December 24, 2013, the CPUC issued a Ruling with CPUC Staff’s Report attached to the Ruling responding to parties’ comments and proposing amendments to General Order 169  which implements the Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act of 2006. 

CPUC Decision on Franchise Renewal Rules

On August 29, 2014, the CPUC issued a Decision establishing procedures and requirements for the renewal of video franchises, ruling that:  

  • The Franchise Renewal process will be the same as the CPUC’s initial application process, which is ministerial and compliance is self-certified based on franchisees filing of an affidavit with the CPUC. 
  • The CPUC lacks authority to expand the video franchise renewal process beyond its current application process. 
  • ORA’s comments on applicant’s Renewal application will have no bearing on CPUC approval. 

 

ORA Policy Position

ORA does not support the CPUC’s August 2014 Decision, which interprets state law to require the franchise renewal process to be simply ministerial.  

ORA filed a Petition for Modification with the CPUC requesting changes that will comport with state law and that are necessary to operate the franchise renewal process in an open and transparent manner. 

  • Require Public Participation Hearings 
  • Allow public comment  
  • Remove language stating that ORA’s comments will not be considered as part of the renewal application process 

These practices are also consistent with:  

  • Federal Law that requires adequate public notice and comment in franchise renewals. 
  • State Law requiring ORA to advocate on behalf of video subscribers. 

See ORA’s July 1, 2015 Petition for Modification on the CPUC's Franchise Renewal Decision. 

See ORA's Presentation of its analysis on the DIVCA Renewal process. 

 

ORA advocated that the CPUC adopt a process for DIVCA franchise renewal applications that permits the stakeholders the opportunity to submit meaningful comments on the renewal process, including:   

  • Customer Service  
  • Discrimination based on redlining  
  • Public Education and Government (PEG) Channel Access  
  • Cross Subsidization  
  • Potential for Fines and Violations 
  • Information the Franchise Renewal Applications must contain     

See ORA's January 24, 2014 Opening Comments on the CPUC Staff Report. 

See ORA's February 18, 2014 Reply Comments. 

 

   

Proceeding Status

A CPUC Proposed Decision on the DIVCA Renewal process is pending and anticipated by summer 2014. 

See the Proceeding docket. 

 

Other Resources

See the CPUC's Video Franchising Webpage.