[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Selectmen of the Town of Wells 8-6-1996. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter provides for Town regulation and use of the cable television system, including its construction, operation and maintenance in, along, upon, across, over and under the streets, alleys, public ways and public places now laid out or dedicated, and all extensions thereof and additions thereto, in the Town of Wells, including poles, wires, cables, underground conduits, manholes, conductors and fixtures necessary for a cable television system, and provides conditions accompanying the grant of franchise and provides for the Town regulation of cable television system operation.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- CABLE TELEVISION COMPANY or COMPANY
- Any person, firm or corporation owning, controlling, operating, managing or leasing a cable television system within the Town of Wells.
- CABLE TELEVISION SYSTEM
- Any facility that, in whole or in part, receives directly or indirectly over the air and amplifies or otherwise modifies signals transmitting programs broadcast by one or more television or radio stations or originates its own signal or signals produced through any of its community access channels and distributes such signals by wire or cable to subscribing members of the public who pay for such services. The term does not include any such facility that serves fewer than 50 subscribers or that serves only the residents of one or more apartment dwellings under common ownership, control or management and commercial establishments located on the premises of the apartment dwellings.
- The Town of Wells organized and existing under the laws of the State of Maine and the area within its territorial limits.
No person, firm or corporation shall install, maintain or operate within the Town or any of its public streets or other public areas any equipment or facilities for the operation of a cable television system unless a franchise authorizing the use of said public streets or areas has first been obtained pursuant to the provisions of this chapter and unless said franchise is in full force and effect.
The municipal officers of the Town may contract on such terms, conditions and fees as are in the best interest of the municipality and its residents with one or more cable television companies for the operation of a cable television system within the Town, including the granting of a nonexclusive franchise or franchises for the operation thereof for a period not to exceed 15 years.
Applicants for a franchise, including applicants for renewal of a franchise, shall pay a nonrefundable filing fee to the Town as established by the Board of Selectmen, following notice and a public hearing, to defray the cost of public notices, advertising and other expenses relating to, or incurred by the Town in acting upon, such applications.
The application shall be filed with the Town Clerk and shall contain such information as the Town may require, including but not limited to a general description of the applicant's proposed operation, a schedule of proposed changes, a statement detailing its previous two fiscal years, an estimated ten-year financial projection of its proposed system and its proposed annual Town franchise fee or the basis for the same and a statement detailing the prior operational experience of the applicant in both cable television and microwave service, including that of its officers, management and staff to be associated with the proposed operation.
Franchise applications, including renewal applications, and any submittals in response to a request for proposals or solicitation of bids are public records. Upon the filing of such documents, the Town shall provide reasonable notice to the public of the filing of such documents and indicating that such documents are open to public inspection during reasonable hours.
Said franchise contract may be revoked by the municipal officers for good and sufficient cause after due notice to the company and a public hearing thereon with the right to appeal to the York County Superior Court under Rule 80-B of the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure in accordance with due process.
Before authorizing the issuance of any such franchise, including transfers of ownership or renewals, contract or contracts, the municipal officers shall review the applicant's character, financial and technical qualifications and the adequacy and feasibility of its qualifications to operate a cable television system within the Town and shall conduct a public hearing thereon with at least seven days' advertised notice prior to said public hearing. Such public hearing shall provide a reasonable opportunity for public input on the proposed franchise agreement or transfer.
Upon the execution of any such franchise contract the cable television company shall file a surety company performance bond in the amount and in such form as is acceptable to the Town. The Town, in making this determination, may rely upon the advice of the municipal officers, Town Manager, Town Attorney and/or other appropriate Town officials. The amount of said bond shall not be less than the estimated cost of performing any work specified in the franchise agreement and shall include the cost of dismantling the cable television system. Said bond shall be conditioned upon the faithful performance of said contract and full compliance with any laws, ordinances or regulations governing said franchise.
When the cable television company has completed construction of the system as set forth in the franchise agreement and provided that the cable television company is otherwise in compliance with the terms of the franchise agreement, the municipal officers shall permit the company to reduce said bond to an amount sufficient to cover the cost of dismantling the system.
The cable television company shall also, upon execution of any such franchise contract, provide evidence of such public liability, copyright infringement and other insurance coverage as the municipal officers may require.
The Board of Selectmen may opt to allow for a corporate guaranty in lieu of a performance bond and appropriately condition the corporate guaranty.
The Board of Selectmen is hereby authorized to enter into an interlocal agreement with the Towns of North Berwick, Ogunquit and York for the purpose of establishing a Cable Television Regulatory Board.
Membership. The Board of Selectmen is hereby authorized to appoint two volunteer members to the Cable Television Regulatory Board for the Town of Wells. In addition, the Town Manager shall be an advisory member to the Wells delegates.
Duties of the Board. The Cable Television Regulatory Board shall have the following duties:
To adopt such rules and regulations as it may deem necessary for monitoring the operation of the system, said rules and regulations being subject to the approval of the Selectmen of each town which is the signatory to the interlocal agreement mentioned in the first paragraph hereof. All such rules and regulations shall not be in conflict with those that have been or may be adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for the operation of such systems but may, unless expressly preempted, be more detailed, more restrictive or more strict than applicable FCC regulations.
To make recommendations to the cable television company concerning educational and local interest programming.
To resolve complaints, disputes or disagreements between subscribers and the company.
To conduct public hearings and issue such appropriate orders as it may deem necessary to correct any deficiency in the operation of said system. The Board's decisions and findings shall be final and binding upon all parties, including the company, except such a decision or finding may be appealed to the municipal officers and/or to the York County Superior Court under Rule 80-B of the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure.
To prepare specifications for bids or requests for proposals for cable television franchises and invite bids or issue requests for proposals for said franchises. Before issuing a request for proposals or soliciting bids, the Cable Television Regulatory Board shall determine any special local needs or interests, whether by actively seeking to determine those needs or interests or by allowing a period for public comment on a proposed request for proposals. Upon receipt of bids or proposals, it shall study the same and make recommendations on the awarding of a franchise, said recommendations being subject to the approval of each Board of Selectmen of each town which is the signatory to the interlocal agreement mentioned in the first paragraph hereof.
The Cable Television Regulatory Board shall negotiate the franchise agreement between the company and the municipalities who are signatories to the interlocal agreement as mentioned in the first paragraph above, said recommendations being subject to the final and full approval of each municipality.
Each franchise contract between the Town and any cable television company shall contain, but is not limited to, the following provisions:
A statement of the area or areas to be served by the cable television company;
A line extension policy;
A provision for renewal, the term of which may not exceed 15 years;
Procedures for the investigation and resolution of complaints by the cable television company;
An agreement to comply with the requirements of 30-A M.R.S.A. § 3010 regarding consumer rights and protection and any amendments thereto;
Any other terms and conditions that are in the best interest of the Town; and
Provisions for access to, and facilities to make use of, one or more local public, educational and governmental access channels subject to the definitions and requirements of the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984, Public Law 98-549, and any amendments thereto.
The municipal officers of the Town of Wells shall:
Adopt such rules and regulations as they may deem necessary for monitoring the operation of a cable television system;
Make recommendations to the cable television company concerning educational and local interest programming;
Resolve complaints, disputes or disagreements between subscribers and the company;
Conduct public hearings and issue such appropriate orders as they may deem necessary to correct any deficiencies in the operation of the system. The municipal officers' decisions and findings shall be final and binding upon all parties, including the company, except such decision or finding may be appealed to the York County Superior Court under Rule 80-B; and
Enforce the requirements of any franchise agreement with a cable television company and enforce the provisions of any local ordinances, regulations, rules and orders, including the provisions of this chapter. As part of such enforcement authority, the municipal officers have the authority to bring legal action for damages and penalties and for injunctive relief. The Town shall be entitled to recover its costs, including reasonable attorney fees, incurred in the enforcement of this chapter, the provisions of a franchise agreement or any local rules or regulations adopted pursuant to this chapter.
All such ordinances, regulations, rules and orders of the municipal officers shall not be in conflict with those that have been or may be adopted by the Federal Communications Commission for the operation of such systems, except that, unless expressly preempted, such ordinances, regulations, rules and orders may be more detailed, more strict or more restrictive than applicable FCC regulations.
Cable television companies shall at all times comply with all applicable federal, state and local laws, statutes, rules, regulations, ordinances, codes and orders.