Chapter 610 Cable And Video Services

Link to law: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0600-0699%2F0610%2F0610.html
Published: 2015

CHAPTER 610
CABLE AND VIDEO SERVICES

610.102 Department of State authority to issue statewide cable and video franchise.

610.103 Definitions.

610.104 State authorization to provide cable or video service.

610.105 Eligibility for state-issued franchise.

610.106 Franchise fees prohibited.

610.107 Buildout.

610.108 Customer service standards.

610.109 Public, educational, and governmental access channels.

610.112 Cable or video services for public facilities.

610.113 Nondiscrimination by municipality or county.

610.114 Limitation on local authority.

610.115 Discrimination prohibited.

610.116 Compliance.

610.117 Limitation.

610.118 Impairment; court-ordered operations.

610.1201 Severability.

610.102 Department of State authority to issue statewide cable and video franchise.—The department shall be designated as the franchising authority for a state-issued franchise for the provision of cable or video service. A municipality or county may not grant a new franchise for the provision of cable or video service within its jurisdiction.
History.—s. 7, ch. 2007-29.

610.103 Definitions.—As used in ss. 610.102-610.117:
(1) “Cable service” means:
(a) The one-way transmission to subscribers of video programming or any other programming service.

(b) Subscriber interaction, if any, that is required for the selection or use of such video programming or other programming service.

(2) “Cable service provider” means a person that provides cable service over a cable system.

(3) “Cable system” means a facility consisting of a set of closed transmission paths and associated signal generation, reception, and control equipment that is designed to provide cable service that includes video programming and that is provided to multiple subscribers within a community, but such term does not include:
(a) A facility that serves only to retransmit the television signals of one or more television broadcast stations;

(b) A facility that serves only subscribers in one or more multiple-unit dwellings under common ownership, control, or management, unless such facility or facilities use any public right-of-way;

(c) A facility that serves subscribers without using any public right-of-way;

(d) A facility of a common carrier that is subject, in whole or in part, to the provisions of Title II of the federal Communications Act of 1934 except that such facility shall be considered a cable system other than for purposes of 47 U.S.C. s. 541(c) to the extent such facility is used in the transmission of video programming directly to subscribers, unless the extent of such use is solely to provide interactive on-demand services;

(e) Any facilities of any electric utility used solely for operating its electric utility systems; or

(f) An open video system that complies with 47 U.S.C. s. 573.

(4) “Certificateholder” means a cable or video service provider that has been issued and holds a certificate of franchise authority from the department.

(5) “Department” means the Department of State.

(6) “Franchise” means an initial authorization or renewal of an authorization, regardless of whether the authorization is designated as a franchise, permit, license, resolution, contract, certificate, agreement, or otherwise, to construct and operate a cable system or video service provider network facilities in the public right-of-way.

(7) “Franchise authority” means any governmental entity empowered by federal, state, or local law to grant a franchise.

(8) “Incumbent cable service provider” means a cable or video service provider providing cable or video service on July 1, 2007.

(9) “Public right-of-way” means the area on, below, or above a public roadway, highway, street, sidewalk, alley, or waterway, including, without limitation, a municipal, county, state, district, or other public roadway, highway, street, sidewalk, alley, or waterway.

(10) “Video programming” means programming provided by, or generally considered comparable to programming provided by, a television broadcast station as set forth in 47 U.S.C. s. 522(20).

(11) “Video service” means video programming services, including cable services, provided through wireline facilities located at least in part in the public rights-of-way without regard to delivery technology, including Internet protocol technology. This definition does not include any video programming provided by a commercial mobile service provider as defined in 47 U.S.C. s. 332(d), video programming provided as part of and via a service that enables end users to access content, information, electronic mail, or other services offered over the public Internet.

(12) “Video service provider” means an entity providing video service.

History.—s. 7, ch. 2007-29.

610.104 State authorization to provide cable or video service.—
(1) An entity or person seeking to provide cable or video service in this state after July 1, 2007, shall file an application for a state-issued certificate of franchise authority with the department as required by this section.

(2) An applicant for a state-issued certificate of franchise authority to provide cable or video service shall submit to the Department of State an application that contains:
(a) The official name of the cable or video service provider.

(b) The street address of the principal place of business of the cable or video service provider.

(c) The federal employer identification number or the Department of State’s document number.

(d) The name, address, and telephone number of an officer, partner, owner, member, or manager as a contact person for the cable or video service provider to whom questions or concerns may be addressed.

(e) A duly executed affidavit signed by an officer, partner, owner, or managing member affirming and containing:
1. That the applicant is fully qualified under the provisions of this chapter to file an application and affidavit for a certificate of franchise authority.

2. That the applicant has filed or will timely file with the Federal Communications Commission all forms required by that agency in advance of offering cable or video service in this state.

3. That the applicant agrees to comply with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations, to the extent such state laws and rules are not in conflict with or superseded by the provisions of this chapter or other applicable state law.

4. That the applicant agrees to comply with all state laws and rules and municipal and county ordinances and regulations regarding the placement and maintenance of communications facilities in the public rights-of-way that are generally applicable to providers of communications services in accordance with s. 337.401.

5. A description of the service area for which the applicant seeks a certificate of franchise authority provided on a municipal or countywide basis. The description may be provided in a manner that does not disclose competitively sensitive information. Notwithstanding the foregoing:
a. For incumbent cable or video service providers that have existing local franchise agreements, the service area shall be coextensive with the provider’s service area description in the existing local franchise.

b. For applicants using telecommunications facilities to provide video services, the service area shall be described in terms of entire wire centers that may or may not be consistent with municipal or county boundaries except any portion of a specific wire center which will remain subject to an existing cable or video franchise agreement until the earlier of the agreement’s expiration or termination.

6. The location of the applicant’s principal place of business, the names of the applicant’s principal executive officers, and a physical address sufficient for the purposes of chapter 48.

7. That the applicant will file with the department a notice of commencement of service within 5 business days after first providing service in each area described in subparagraph 5.

8. A statement affirming that the applicant will notify the department of any change of address or contact person.

9. The applicant’s system shall comply with the Federal Communications Commission’s rules and regulations of the Emergency Alert System.

(3) Before the 10th business day after the department receives the application, the department shall notify the applicant whether the application and affidavit described in subsection (2) are complete. If the department rejects the application and affidavit, the department shall specify with particularity the reasons for the rejection and permit the applicant to amend the application or affidavit to cure any deficiency. The department shall act upon the amended application or affidavit within 10 business days after the department’s receipt of the amended application or affidavit.

(4) The department shall issue a certificate of franchise authority to the applicant before the 15th business day after receipt of an accepted application. The certificate of franchise authority issued by the department shall contain:
(a) The name of the certificateholder and its identification number.

(b) A grant of authority to provide cable or video service as requested in the application.

(c) A grant of authority to construct, maintain, and operate facilities through, upon, over, and under any public right-of-way or waters, subject to the applicable governmental permitting or authorization from the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund.

(d) A statement that the grant of authority is subject to lawful operation of the cable or video service by the applicant or its successor in interest.

(e) A statement that describes the service area for which this certificate of authority applies.

(f) A statement that includes the issuance date that shall be the effective date of the commencement of this authority.

(5) If the department fails to act on the accepted application within 30 business days after receiving the accepted application, the application shall be deemed approved by the department without further action.

(6) A certificateholder that seeks to include additional service areas in its current certificate shall file an amendment to the certificate with the department. Such amendment shall specify the name and address of the certificateholder, the new service area or areas to be served, consistent with subparagraph (2)(e)5., but need not be coextensive with municipal or county boundaries, and the effective date of commencement of operations in the new service area or areas. Such amendment shall be filed with the department within 5 business days after first providing service in each such additional area.

(7) The certificate of franchise authority issued by the department is fully transferable to any successor in interest to the applicant to which the certificate is initially granted. A notice of transfer shall be filed with the department and the relevant municipality or county within 14 business days following the completion of such transfer.

(8) The certificate of franchise authority issued by the department may be terminated by the cable or video service provider by submitting notice to the department.

(9) An applicant may challenge a rejection of an application by the department in a court of competent jurisdiction through a petition for mandamus.

(10) In executing the provisions of this section, the department shall function in a ministerial capacity accepting information contained in the application and affidavit at face value. The applicant shall ensure continued compliance with all applicable business formation, registration, and taxation provisions of law.

(11) The application shall be accompanied by a one-time fee of $10,000. A parent company may file a single application covering itself and all of its subsidiaries and affiliates intending to provide cable or video service in the service areas throughout the state as described in subparagraph (2)(e)5., but the entity actually providing such service in a given area shall otherwise be considered the certificateholder under this act.

(12) Beginning 5 years after approval of the certificateholder’s initial certificate of franchise issued by the department, and every 5 years thereafter, the certificateholder shall update the information contained in the original application for a certificate of franchise. At the time of filing the information update, the certificateholder shall pay a processing fee of $1,000. Any certificateholder that fails to file the updated information and pay the processing fee on the 5-year anniversary dates shall be subject to cancellation of its state-issued certificate of franchise authority if, upon notice given to the certificateholder at its last address on file with the department, the certificateholder fails to file the updated information and pay the processing fee within 30 days after the date notice was mailed. The application and processing fees imposed in this section shall be paid to the Department of State for deposit into the Clearing Funds Trust Fund for immediate transfer by the Chief Financial Officer to the General Inspection Trust Fund of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services shall maintain a separate account within the General Inspection Trust Fund to distinguish cable franchise revenues from all other funds. The application, any amendments to the certificate, or information updates must be accompanied by a fee to the Department of State equal to that for filing articles of incorporation pursuant to s. 607.0122(1).

History.—s. 7, ch. 2007-29; s. 142, ch. 2008-4; s. 6, ch. 2010-16.

610.105 Eligibility for state-issued franchise.—
(1) After July 1, 2007, an incumbent cable or video service provider is immediately eligible at its option to apply for a state-issued certificate of franchise authority under this chapter and shall file a written notice with the applicable municipality or county in which the provider provides cable or video service simultaneously with any filing with the department under this chapter. The applicable municipal or county franchise is terminated under this section on the date the department issues the state-issued certificate of franchise authority.

(2) If an incumbent cable or video service provider has been granted a state-issued certificate of franchise authority that covers all or a portion of a municipality or county, any obligation under any existing municipal or county franchise that exceeds the obligations imposed on the certificateholder in the area covered by the certificate shall be against public policy and void.

History.—s. 7, ch. 2007-29.

610.106 Franchise fees prohibited.—Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the department may not impose any taxes, fees, charges, or other impositions on a cable or video service provider as a condition for the issuance of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority. No municipality or county may impose any taxes, fees, charges, or other exactions on certificateholders in connection with use of public right-of-way as a condition of a certificateholder doing business in the municipality or county, or otherwise, except such taxes, fees, charges, or other exactions permitted by chapter 202, s. 337.401(6), or s. 610.117.
History.—s. 7, ch. 2007-29.

610.107 Buildout.—No franchising authority, state agency, or political subdivision may impose any buildout, system construction, or service deployment requirements on a certificateholder.
History.—s. 7, ch. 2007-29.

610.108 Customer service standards.—
(1) All cable or video service providers shall comply with customer service requirements in 47 C.F.R. s. 76.309(c).

(2) The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services shall have the sole authority to respond to all cable or video service customer complaints. This provision does not permit the municipality, county, or department to impose customer service standards inconsistent with the requirements in 47 C.F.R. s. 76.309(c).

(3) The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services shall receive service quality complaints from customers of a cable or video service provider and shall address such complaints in an expeditious manner by assisting in the resolution of such complaint between the complainant and the cable or video service provider. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services may adopt any procedural rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 necessary to administer this section, but shall not have any authority to impose any customer service requirements inconsistent with those contained in 47 C.F.R. s. 76.309(c).

History.—s. 7, ch. 2007-29; s. 144, ch. 2014-17.

610.109 Public, educational, and governmental access channels.—
(1) A certificateholder, not later than 180 days following a request by a municipality or county within whose jurisdiction the certificateholder is providing cable or video service, shall designate a sufficient amount of capacity on its network to allow the provision of public, educational, and governmental access channels for noncommercial programming as set forth in this section.

(2) A certificateholder shall designate a sufficient amount of capacity on its network to allow the provision of the same number of public, educational, and governmental access channels or their functional equivalent that a municipality or county has activated under the incumbent cable or video service provider’s franchise agreement as of July 1, 2007. For the purposes of this section, a public, educational, or governmental channel is deemed activated if the channel is being used for public, educational, or governmental programming within the municipality or county. The municipality or county may request additional channels or their functional equivalent permitted under the incumbent cable or video service provider’s franchise agreement as of July 1, 2007. Upon the expiration of the incumbent cable or video service provider’s franchise agreement or within 6 months after a request of a municipality or county for an additional channel or its functional equivalent, a public access channel or capacity equivalent may be furnished after a polling of all subscribers of the cable or video service in their service area. The usage of one public access channel or capacity equivalent shall be determined by a majority of all the provider’s subscribers in the jurisdiction. The video or cable service subscribers must be provided with clear, plain language informing them that public access is unfiltered programming and may contain adult content.

(3) If a municipality or county did not have public, educational, or governmental access channels activated under the incumbent cable or video service provider’s franchise agreement as of July 1, 2007, after the expiration date of the incumbent cable or video service provider’s franchise agreement and within 6 months after a request by the municipality or county within whose jurisdiction a certificateholder is providing cable or video service, the certificateholder shall furnish up to two public, educational, or governmental channels or their functional equivalent. The usage of the channels or their functional equivalent shall be determined by a majority of all the video service provider’s subscribers in the jurisdiction in order of preference of all video service subscribers. Cable or video service subscribers must be provided with clear, plain language informing them that public access is unfiltered programming and contains adult content.

(4) If a municipality or county has not used the number of access channels or their functional equivalent permitted by subsection (3), access to the additional channels or their functional equivalent allowed in subsection (3) shall be provided upon 6 months’ written notice.

(5) A public, educational, or governmental access channel authorized by this section is deemed activated and substantially used if the channel is being used for public, educational, or governmental access programming within the municipality or county for at least 10 hours per day on average, of which at least 5 hours must be nonrepeat programming and as measured on a quarterly basis. Static information screens or bulletin-board programming shall not count toward this 10-hour requirement. If the applicable access channel does not meet this utilization criterion, the video service provider shall notify the applicable access provider in writing of this failure. If the access provider fails to meet this utilization criterion in the subsequent quarter, the cable or video service provider may reprogram the channel at its discretion. The cable or video service provider shall work in good faith with the access provider to attempt to provide future carriage of the applicable access channel within the limits of this section if the access provider can make reasonable assurances that its future programming will meet the utilization criteria set out in this subsection.

(6) A cable or video service provider may locate any public, educational, or governmental access channel on its lowest digital tier of service offered to the provider’s subscribers. A cable or video service provider must notify its customers and the applicable municipality or county at least 120 days prior to relocating the applicable educational or governmental access channel.

(7) The operation of any public, educational, or governmental access channel or its functional equivalent provided under this section shall be the responsibility of the municipality or county receiving the benefit of such channel or its functional equivalent, and a certificateholder bears only the responsibility for the transmission of such channel content. A certificateholder shall be responsible for the cost of providing the connectivity to one origination point for each public, educational, or governmental access channel up to 200 feet from the certificateholder’s activated video service distribution plant.

(8) The municipality or county shall ensure that all transmissions, content, or programming to be transmitted over a channel or facility by a certificateholder are provided or submitted to the cable or video service provider in a manner or form that is capable of being accepted and transmitted by a provider without any requirement for additional alteration or change in the content by the provider, over the particular network of the cable or video service provider, which is compatible with the technology or protocol used by the cable or video service provider to deliver services. To the extent that a public, educational, or governmental channel content provider has authority, the delivery of public, educational, or governmental content to a certificateholder constitutes authorization for the certificateholder to carry such content, including, at the provider’s option, authorization to carry the content beyond the jurisdictional boundaries of the municipality or county.

(9) Where technically feasible, a certificateholder and an incumbent cable service provider shall use reasonable efforts to interconnect their networks for the purpose of providing public, educational, and governmental programming. Interconnection may be accomplished by direct cable, microwave link, satellite, or other reasonable method of connection. Certificateholders and incumbent cable service providers shall negotiate in good faith, and incumbent cable service providers may not withhold interconnection of public, educational, and governmental channels. The requesting party shall bear the cost of such interconnection.

(10) A certificateholder is not required to interconnect for, or otherwise to transmit, public, educational, and governmental content that is branded with the logo, name, or other identifying marks of another cable or video service provider, and a municipality or county may require a cable or video service provider to remove its logo, name, or other identifying marks from public, educational, and governmental content that is to be made available to another provider. This subsection does not apply to the logo, name, or other identifying marks of the public, educational, or governmental programmer or producer.

(11) A court of competent jurisdiction shall have exclusive jurisdiction to enforce any requirement under this section.

History.—s. 7, ch. 2007-29; s. 99, ch. 2013-15.

610.112 Cable or video services for public facilities.—Upon a request by a municipality or county, a certificateholder shall provide, within 90 days after receipt of the request, one active basic cable or video service outlet to K-12 public schools, public libraries, or local government administrative buildings, to the extent such buildings are located within 200 feet of the certificateholder’s activated video distribution plant. At the request of the municipality or county, the certificateholder shall extend its distribution plant to serve such buildings located more than 200 feet from the certificateholder’s activated video distribution plant. In such circumstances, the governmental entity owning or occupying the building is responsible for the time and material costs incurred in extending the certificateholder’s activated video distribution plant to within 200 feet adjacent to the building. The cable or video services provided under this section shall not be available in an area viewed by the general public and may not be used for any commercial purpose.
History.—s. 7, ch. 2007-29.

610.113 Nondiscrimination by municipality or county.—
(1) A municipality or county shall allow a certificateholder to install, construct, and maintain a network within a public right-of-way and shall provide a certificateholder with comparable, nondiscriminatory, and competitively neutral access to the public right-of-way in accordance with the provisions of s. 337.401. All use of a public right-of-way by a certificateholder is nonexclusive.

(2) A municipality or county may not discriminate against a certificateholder regarding:
(a) The authorization or placement of a network in a public right-of-way;

(b) Access to a building or other property; or

(c) Utility pole attachment terms and conditions.

History.—s. 7, ch. 2007-29.

610.114 Limitation on local authority.—
(1) A municipality or county may not impose additional requirements on a certificateholder, including, but not limited to, financial, operational, and administrative requirements, except as expressly permitted by this chapter. A municipality or county may not impose on activities of a certificateholder a requirement:
(a) That particular business offices be located in the municipality or county;

(b) Regarding the filing of reports and documents with the municipality or county that are not required by state or federal law and that are not related to the use of the public right-of-way. Reports and documents other than schematics indicating the location of facilities for a specific site that are provided in the normal course of the municipality’s or county’s permitting process, that are authorized by s. 337.401 for communications service providers, or that are otherwise required in the normal course of such permitting process shall not be considered related to the use of the public right-of-way for communications service providers. A municipality or county may not request information concerning the capacity or technical configuration of a certificateholder’s facilities;

(c) For the inspection of a certificateholder’s business records; or

(d) For the approval of transfers of ownership or control of a certificateholder’s business, except that a municipality or county may require a certificateholder to provide notice of a transfer within a reasonable time.

(2) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a municipality or county may require the issuance of a permit in accordance with and subject to s. 337.401 to a certificateholder that is placing and maintaining facilities in or on a public right-of-way in the municipality or county. In accordance with s. 337.402, the permit may require the permitholder to be responsible, at the permitholder’s expense, for any damage resulting from the issuance of such permit and for restoring the public right-of-way to its original condition before installation of such facilities. The terms of the permit shall be consistent with construction permits issued to other providers of communications services placing or maintaining communications facilities in a public right-of-way.

History.—s. 7, ch. 2007-29.

610.115 Discrimination prohibited.—
(1) The purpose of this section is to prevent discrimination among potential residential subscribers.

(2) A cable or video service provider may not deny access to service to any individual or group of potential residential subscribers because of the race or income of the residents in the local area in which the individual or group resides. Enforcement of this section shall be in accordance with s. 501.2079.

History.—s. 7, ch. 2007-29.

610.116 Compliance.—If a certificateholder is found by a court of competent jurisdiction not to be in compliance with the requirements of this chapter, the certificateholder shall have a reasonable period of time, as specified by the court, to cure such noncompliance.
History.—s. 7, ch. 2007-29.

610.117 Limitation.—Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to give any local government or the department any authority over any communications service other than cable or video services whether offered on a common carrier or private contract basis.
History.—s. 7, ch. 2007-29.

610.118 Impairment; court-ordered operations.—
(1) If an incumbent cable or video service provider is required to operate under its existing franchise and is legally prevented by a lawfully issued order of a court of competent jurisdiction from exercising its right to terminate its existing franchise pursuant to the terms of s. 610.105, any certificateholder providing cable service or video service in whole or in part within the service area that is the subject of the incumbent cable or video service provider’s franchise shall, for as long as the court order remains in effect, comply with the following franchise terms and conditions as applicable to the incumbent cable or video service provider in the service area:
(a) The certificateholder shall pay to the municipality or county:
1. Any prospective lump-sum or recurring per-subscriber funding obligations to support public, educational, and governmental access channels or other prospective franchise-required monetary grants related to public, educational, or governmental access facilities equipment and capital costs. Prospective lump-sum payments shall be made on an equivalent per-subscriber basis calculated as follows: the amount of the prospective funding obligations divided by the number of subscribers being served by the incumbent cable service provider at the time of payment, divided by the number of months remaining in the incumbent cable or video service provider’s franchise equals the monthly per subscriber amount to be paid by the certificateholder until the expiration or termination of the incumbent cable or video service provider’s franchise; and

2. If the incumbent cable or video service provider is required to make payments for the funding of an institutional network, the certificateholder shall pay an amount equal to the incumbent’s funding obligations but not to exceed 1 percent of the sales price, as defined in s. 202.11(13), for the taxable monthly retail sales of cable or video programming services the certificateholder received from subscribers in the affected municipality or county. All definitions and exemptions under chapter 202 apply in the determination of taxable monthly retail sales of cable or video programming services.

(b) Payments are not due under this subsection until 45 days after the municipality or county notifies the respective providers.

(c) Any certificateholder may designate that portion of that subscriber’s bill attributable to any fee imposed pursuant to this section as a separate item on the bill and recover such amount from the subscriber.

(2) The provisions of subsection (1) do not alter the rights of a cable service or video service provider with respect to service areas designated pursuant to s. 610.104(2)(e)5. Any certificateholder providing cable service or video service in a service area covered by the terms of an existing cable or video service provider’s franchise that is subject to a court or other proceeding challenging the ability of an incumbent cable or video service provider to exercise its legal right to terminate its existing cable franchise pursuant to s. 610.105 has the right to intervene in such proceeding.

History.—s. 7, ch. 2007-29.

610.1201 Severability.—If any provision of ss. 610.102-610.119 or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or application of ss. 610.102-610.119 which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of ss. 610.102-610.119 are severable.
History.—s. 7, ch. 2007-29.
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