The U.S. Conference of Mayors


WHEREAS, wireline cable companies use public property such as rights-of-way, poles, and conduits in providing cable services to their customers; and

WHEREAS, permission to use public property is normally granted under a cable franchise agreement that contains provisions and conditions of use by such wireline cable providers; and

WHEREAS, cable franchise agreements allow municipal governments or states to determine the appropriate needs of their communities so as to ensure franchises are tailored to meet the needs and interests of socio-economically diverse residents; and

WHEREAS, significant public benefits have been realized from these agreements, including public, educational and government (PEG) access channels, institutional networks (I-Net), in-kind contributions, and access in historically underserved areas; and

WHEREAS, wireline cable companies have been operating under franchise agreements for more than 50 years, including the last 23 years pursuant to the 1984 Cable Act, and these agreements have resulted in cable operator growth while addressing the needs of local communities; and

WHEREAS, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Report and Order (the "Franchising Order") and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM), FCC 06-180, adopted on December 20, 2006, and released on March 5, 2007, detailed new rules and policies intended to "facilitate and expedite entry of new cable competitors into the market for delivery of video programming, and accelerate broadband deployment"; and

WHEREAS, the Franchising Order concluded that certain practices of local government franchising "constitute an unreasonable barrier to entry" for new cable providers; and

WHEREAS, the Franchising Order preempts local franchising authority and changes the normal franchise process with respect to new applicants, related to negotiation time limits and granting of default "interim" franchises; build-out requirements; treatment of franchise fees, application fees, PEG and I-Net support; and exemptions for non-cable services and mixed-use facilities; and creates uncertainty as to the scope of build-out obligations that may be imposed on providers of competitive cable services; and

WHEREAS, the FCC signaled its intentions in the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to apply the Franchising Order to incumbent cable operators when engaging in franchise renewals; and

WHEREAS, these changes undermine the ability of local governments to negotiate franchises that are in the best interest of their residents and jeopardize the preservation of the benefits already achieved; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, joined by the Alliance for Community Media, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA), the National League of Cities, National Association of Counties, and the Alliance for Communications Democracy, has filed a Petition for Review challenging the statutory authority of the FCC Franchising Order, and

WHEREAS, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has been chosen to hear this appeal; THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors reaffirms the importance of the local franchising process in ensuring that the needs and interests of local communities are met, and that there is a fair and equitable environment for the provision of cable services, both to the benefit of cable providers and the local community; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors reiterates its opposition to administrative actions by the FCC to preempt and restrict local governments from negotiating franchise agreements or renewals in an effort to protect the best interests of their constituents, and considers such actions by the FCC to exceed its statutory authority and be an abuse of discretion; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors urges the Congress to restrict the FCC from using appropriated funds to implement the Franchising Order, and to otherwise ensure that any federal changes to local franchising authority are the result of deliberation and action through the legislative process.

2007 The U.S. Conference of Mayors
Tom Cochran, Executive Director
1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
Tel. 202.293.7330 ~ Fax 202.293.2352