[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Township of Florence 9-16-2015 by Ord. No. 2015-20. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also superseded former Ch. A146, Cable Television Franchise, adopted 4-16-1997 by Ord. No. 1997-15.
The municipality hereby grants to Comcast renewal of its nonexclusive municipal consent to place in, upon, across, above, over and under highways, streets, alleys, sidewalks, easements, public ways and public places in the municipality, poles, wires, cables, underground conduits, manholes and other television conductors, fixtures, apparatus and equipment as may be necessary for the construction, operation and maintenance in the municipality of a cable television and communications system.
For the purpose of this ordinance, the following terms, phrases, words and their derivations shall have the meaning given herein. Such meaning or definition of terms is supplemental to those definitions of the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") rules and regulations, 47 C.F.R. 76.1 et seq., and the Cable Communications Policy Act, 47 U.S.C. § 521 et seq., as amended, and the Cable Television Act, N.J.S.A. 48:5A-1 et seq., and shall in no way be construed to broaden, alter or conflict with the federal and state definitions:
- ACT OR CABLE TELEVISION ACT
- Chapter 186 of the General Laws of New Jersey, and subsequent amendments thereto, N.J.S.A. 48:5A-1 et seq.
- The company's application for renewal of municipal consent.
- BASIC CABLE SERVICE
- Any service tier which includes the retransmission of local television broadcast signals as defined by the FCC.
- BOARD OR BPU
- The Board of Public Utilities, State of New Jersey.
- The grantee of rights under this ordinance and is known as "Comcast of Garden State, LP."
- The Federal Communications Commission.
- OFFICE OR OCTV
- The Office of Cable Television of the Board.
- PRIMARY SERVICE AREA or PSA
- Consists of the area of the municipality currently served with existing plant as set forth in the map annexed to the company's application for municipal consent.
- TOWNSHIP OR MUNICIPALITY
- The Township of Florence, County of Burlington, State of New Jersey.
Public hearings conducted by the municipality, concerning the renewal of municipal consent herein granted to the company, were held after proper public notice pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Act and the regulations of the Board adopted pursuant thereto. Said hearings, having been fully open to the public, and the municipality, having received at said public hearings all comments regarding the qualifications of the company to receive this renewal of municipal consent, the municipality hereby finds that the company possesses the necessary legal, technical, character, financial and other qualifications and that the company's operating and construction arrangements are adequate and feasible.
The nonexclusive municipal consent granted herein shall expire 15 years from the date of expiration of the previous Certificate of Approval issued by the Board with a ten-year automatic renewal as provided by N.J.S.A. 48:5A-19 and 25, and N.J.A.C. 14:18-13.6.
In the event that the municipality shall find that the company has not substantially complied with the material terms and conditions of this ordinance, the municipality shall have the right to petition the OCTV, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 48:5A-47, for appropriate action, including modification and/or termination of the certificate of approval; provided however, that the municipality shall first have given the company written notice of all alleged instances of noncompliance and an opportunity to cure same within 90 days of that notification.
Pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Act, the company shall, during each year of operation under the consent granted herein, pay to the municipality 2% of the gross revenues from all recurring charges in the nature of subscription fees paid by subscribers for cable television reception service in the municipality or any higher amount permitted by the Act or otherwise allowable by law, whichever is greater.
The consent granted under this ordinance for the renewal of the franchise shall apply to the entirety of the municipality and any property subsequently annexed hereto.
The company shall be required to provide service to any residence or business along any public right-of-way in the primary service area, as set forth in the company's application. Any extension of plant beyond the primary service area shall be governed by the company's line extension policy, as set forth in the company's application.
Restoration. In the event that the company or its agents shall disturb any pavement, street surfaces, sidewalks, driveways, or other surface in the natural topography, the company shall, at its sole expense, restore and replace such places or things so disturbed in as good a condition as existed prior to the commencement of said work.
Relocation. If at any time during the period of this consent, the municipality shall alter or change the grade of any street, alley or other way or place the company, upon reasonable notice by the municipality, shall remove, re-lay or relocate its equipment, at the expense of the company.
Removal or trimming of trees. During the exercise of its rights and privileges under this franchise, the company shall have the authority to trim trees upon and overhanging streets, alleys, sidewalks or other public places of the municipality so as to prevent the branches of such trees from coming in contact with the wires and cable of the company. Such trimming shall be only to the extent necessary to maintain proper clearance of the company's wire and cables.
In providing services to its customers, the company shall comply with N.J.A.C. 14:181 et seq. and all applicable state and federal statutes and regulations. The company shall strive to meet or exceed all voluntary company and industry standards in the delivery of customer service and shall be prepared to report on it to the municipality upon written request of the municipality Administrator or Clerk.
The company shall continue to comply fully with all applicable state and federal statutes and regulations regarding credit for outages, the reporting of same to regulatory agencies and notification of same to customers.
The company shall continue to fully comply with all applicable state and federal statutes and regulations regarding the availability of devices for the hearing impaired and the notification of same to customers.
The company shall use every reasonable effort to meet or exceed voluntary standards for telephone accessibility developed by the National Cable Television Association (NCTA).
Nothing herein shall impair the right of any subscriber or the municipality to express any comment with respect to telephone accessibility to the Complaint Officer, or impair the right of the Complaint Officer to take any action that is permitted under law.
The Office of Cable Television is hereby designated as the Complaint Officer for the municipality pursuant to N.J.S.A. 48:5A-26(b). All complaints shall be received and processed in accordance with N.J.A.C. 14:17-6.5. The municipality shall have the right to request copies of records and reports pertaining to complaints by municipality customers from the OCTV.
During the term of this franchise, and any renewal thereof, the company shall maintain a business office or agent in accordance with N.J.A.C. 14:18-5.1 for the purpose of receiving, investigating and resolving all local complaints regarding the quality of service, equipment malfunctions, and similar matters. Such a business office shall have a publicly listed toll-free telephone number and be open during standard business hours.
During the life of the franchise, the company shall give to the municipality a bond in the amount of $25,000. Such bond shall be to insure the faithful performance of all undertakings of the company as represented in its application for municipal consent, incorporated herein.
The rates of the company shall be subject to regulation as permitted by federal and state law.
The company shall provide Expanded Basic or a similar tier of cable television service on one (1) outlet at no cost to each qualified existing and future school in the municipality, public and private, elementary, intermediate and secondary, provided that the school is within 175 feet of active cable distribution plant. Each additional outlet installed, if any, shall be paid for on a materials plus labor basis by the school requesting service.
The company shall provide Expanded Basic or a similar tier of cable television service at no cost on one outlet to each qualified existing and future police, fire, emergency management facility and public library in the municipality, provided that the facility is located within 175 feet of active cable distribution plant. Each additional outlet installed, if any, shall be paid for on a materials plus labor basis by the municipality.
The company shall provide free basic Internet access via high-speed cable modem on one non-networked personal computer in each qualified existing and future public library at no charge provided the facility is located within 175 feet of active cable distribution plant. The Internet service shall be installed on a personal computer that is accessible to library patrons and not for administrative use only.
Within six months of the issuance of a renewal certificate of approval by the BPU, the company shall provide to the municipality a one-time technology grant in the amount of $25,000 to meet the general technology and/or cable related needs of the community.
The Communications Act of 1934, as amended [47 U.S.C. § 543 (b)], allows the company to itemize and/or identify:
The amount on the subscriber bill assessed as a franchise fee and the identity of the governmental authority to which the fee is paid;
The amount on the bill assessed to satisfy any requirements imposed on the company by the cable franchise to support public, educational, and/or governmental access channels or the use of such channels; and
Any grants or other fees on the bill or any tax, assessment, or charge of any kind imposed by any governmental authority on the transaction between the operator and the subscriber. The company reserves these external cost, pass-through rights to the extent permitted by law.
The company will continue to provide the Township one channel for educational and governmental ("EG") access on the most basic tier of service offered by the company in accordance with the Cable Act, Section 611, and as further set forth below. EG access video programming shall be provided by the governing body of Florence Township or a designated educational institution.
The company shall build a fiber return line to the Florence Township Municipal Building at 711 Broad Street and maintain the cable, modulators, and equipment necessary for Florence Township to send a signal to the company, and to receive the return feed signal. The company will not be responsible for the maintenance of any studio equipment used for the access channel, including but not limited to cameras, editing decks, monitors and character generators.
The company does not relinquish its ownership of or ultimate right of control over a channel by designating it for EG use. An EG access user — whether an educational or government user — acquires no property or other interest by virtue of the use of a channel so designated, and may not rely on the continued use of a particular channel number, no matter how long the same channel may have been designated for such use.
The company shall not exercise editorial control over any educational or governmental use of channel capacity, except the company may refuse to transmit any educational or governmental access program or portion of an educational or governmental access program that contains obscenity, indecency, or nudity.
Educational access. "Educational access" shall mean noncommercial use by educational institutions such as public or private schools, but not "home schools," community colleges, and universities.
Government access. "Government access" shall mean noncommercial use by the governing body of Florence Township for the purpose of showing the public local government at work.
Company use of fallow time. Because blank or underutilized EG channels are not in the public interest, in the event the municipalities or other EG access users elect not to fully program their EG access channel, the company may program unused time on those channels subject to reclamation by the municipality upon no less than 60 days' written notice.
Indemnification. The municipalities shall indemnify the company for any liability, loss, or damage it may suffer due to violation of the intellectual property rights of third parties on the EG channel and from claims arising out of the municipalities' rules for or administration of access.
The company will comply with the Emergency Alert System ("EAS") rules in accordance with applicable state and federal statutes and regulations.
The company shall in no way be held liable for any injury suffered by the municipality or any other person, during an emergency, if for any reason the municipality is unable to make full use of the cable television system as contemplated herein.
The company shall at all times maintain a comprehensive general liability insurance policy with a single-limit amount of $1,000,000, covering liability for any death, personal injury, property damages or other liability arising out of its construction and operation of the cable television system, and an excess liability (or "umbrella") policy in the amount of $5,000,000.
All of the statements and commitments contained in the application or annexed thereto and incorporated therein, and any amendment thereto, except as modified herein, are binding upon the company as terms and conditions of this consent. The application and other relevant writings submitted by the company shall be annexed hereto and made a part hereof by reference provided same do not conflict with applicable state or federal law.
Should the municipality grant a franchise to construct, operate and maintain a cable television system to any other person, corporation or entity on terms materially less burdensome or more favorable than the terms contained herein, the company may substitute such language that is more favorable or less burdensome for the comparable provision of this ordinance, subject to the provisions of N.J.A.C. 14:17-6.7.
If any section, subsection, sentence, clause, phrase or portion of this ordinance is for any reason held invalid or unconstitutional by any court or federal or state agency of competent jurisdiction, such portion shall be deemed a separate, distinct and independent provision, and its validity or unconstitutionality shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of the ordinance.
Nothing in this franchise or in any prior agreement is or was intended to confer third-party beneficiary status on any member of the public to enforce the terms of such agreements or franchise.
This ordinance shall take effect immediately upon issuance of a renewal certificate of approval from the BPU.