Upon written request made by the County Administrator on behalf of the County and in accordance with applicable rules and regulations, the franchisee shall provide up to three public, educational, and governmental access ("PEG") channels dedicated solely to the County or its designee and not shared with any other jurisdiction unless the County, in writing, agrees otherwise.
The County may, after a public hearing and upon a finding that the existing PEG channel is substantially utilized within the meaning of § 15.2-2108.22(1) of the Code of Virginia, require by ordinance that all County franchisees provide additional PEG channels, up to a maximum of three additional PEG channels, provided that the total number of PEG channels in the County, including the additional PEG channels, shall not exceed seven.
Any additional PEG channel provided pursuant to Subdivision (2) of this Subsection (a) that is not utilized for at least eight hours a day by the County need no longer be made available to the County by a franchisee, but may be programmed at the franchisee's discretion. At such time as the County can certify to the franchisee a schedule for at least eight hours of daily programming for a period of three months, the franchisee shall restore any reallocated additional PEG channel.
All PEG channels shall be carried on a franchisee's basic tier.
The County or its designee shall be responsible for management, operation, and programming of the PEG access channels.
A franchisee shall, as necessary and reasonably possible, interconnect with one or more other franchisees in the County or directly connect to PEG insertion points to ensure the carriage of all required PEG access channels.
Franchisee shall ensure that all PEG access channel signals carried on its system, regardless of the method used to acquire the PEG channels, comply with all applicable FCC signal quality and technical standards for all classes of signals. The technical and signal quality of all PEG access channel signals shall be preserved.
As of July 1, 2012, for an effective date no earlier than January 1, 2013, if the County is operating a PEG facility in accordance with this chapter, the County may negotiate with all franchisees to set a recurring fee to support the reasonable and necessary capital costs of PEG facilities, including institutional networks, that shall be imposed on all franchisees such that the fee applies equally, on a gross revenue percentage or per-subscriber basis, to all franchisees in the County.
If the County and the franchisees cannot agree on a recurring PEG capital cost fee through negotiation under Subdivision (1) of this Subsection (b), the County, by ordinance adopted after a public hearing, may impose a recurring fee, calculated on a per-subscriber or percentage of gross revenue basis, to support the reasonable and necessary capital costs of PEG access facilities, including institutional networks, to be effective after January 1, 2013.
The PEG capital cost fee, if imposed, shall not constitute nor be a part of any franchise fee, and all such costs fall within one or more of the exceptions listed in 47 U.S.C. § 542.
The franchisee shall comply in all respects with the customer service requirements established by the Federal Communications Commission and set forth in Title 47, Part 76 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Accordingly, the franchisee shall be subject to the following customer service standards consistent with 47 CFR §§ 76.309, 76.1602, 76.1603, 76.1618 and 76.1619:
Customer service telephone access line. A franchisee shall maintain a local, toll-free, or collect telephone access line which will be available to its subscribers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Trained representatives will be available to respond to customer telephone inquiries during normal business hours.
After normal business hours, the access line may be answered by a service or automated response system, including an answering machine. Inquiries received after normal business hours must be responded to by a trained representative on the next business day.
Installations, outages, and service calls. Under normal operating conditions, each of the following four standards will be met no less than 95% of the time as measured on a quarterly basis:
Standard installations will be performed within seven business days after an order has been placed. "Standard" installations are those that are within 125 feet of the existing distribution system.
Excluding conditions beyond the control of the franchisee, the franchisee will begin working on service interruptions promptly and in no event later than 24 hours after the interruption becomes known. The franchisee must begin actions to correct other service problems the next business day after notification of the service problem.
The "appointment window" alternatives for installations, service calls and other installation activities will either be at a specific time or, at maximum, a four-hour time block during normal business hours. A franchisee may schedule service calls and other installation activities outside of normal business hours for the express convenience of the customer.
A franchisee may not cancel an appointment with a customer after the close of business on the business day prior to the scheduled appointment. If a franchisee representative is running late for an appointment with a customer and will not be able to keep the appointment as scheduled, the customer will be contacted. The appointment will be rescheduled as necessary, at a time that is convenient for the customer.
A franchisee shall accurately collect and maintain data to measure its compliance with Subparagraph (2) and shall provide to the County, within 30 days of receipt of written request, such data reports for County review. Data reports shall be maintained for a minimum of three years prior to destruction.
A franchisee shall meet the following communications standards for its subscribers:
A franchisee shall provide written information on each of the following areas at the time of installation of service, at least annually to all subscribers, and at any time upon request:
Products and services offered;
Notice of availability of basic tier service along with monthly cost of such service and a list of all services included in the basic service tier;
Prices and options for programming services and conditions of subscription to programming and other services;
Installation and service maintenance policies;
Instruction on how to use the cable service;
Channel positions of programming carried on the system;
Refund policy; and
Billing and complaint procedures, including the franchisee's office hours, address and telephone number of the local cable office.
A franchisee shall notify subscribers in writing of any changes in rates, programming services or channel positions as soon as reasonably possible. Notice should be given to subscribers a minimum of 30 days in advance of such change if the change is within the control of the franchisee.
A franchisee's bills to its subscribers shall be clear, concise, and understandable. Bills must be fully itemized, with itemizations including, but not limited to, basic and premium service charges and equipment charges. Bills will also clearly delineate all activity during the billing period, including optional charges, rebates, and credits.
Bills shall show clearly and predominately a local or toll-free telephone number for customers to use to contact the franchisee's customer service department.
In case of a billing dispute, a franchisee must respond to a written complaint from a subscriber within 30 days.
Credits for service will be issued no later than the customer's next billing cycle following the determination that a credit is warranted.
A franchisee shall maintain and provide to the County, within 30 days of receipt of written request, a log of all subscriber complaints indicating the action taken by the franchisee. Such logs shall be maintained for a minimum period of three years prior to destruction.
Within no less than three years of the date of the grant of the franchise, a franchisee shall make cable service available to all of the occupied residential dwelling units in the initial service area selected by the franchisee pursuant to § 28-3(c) hereof.
Within seven years of the date of the grant of the franchise, a franchisee shall make cable service available to no less than 65% of the residential dwelling units throughout the area in the County in which the franchisee has telephone facilities to the extent permitted by state law.
Notwithstanding Subparagraphs (a) and (b) above, a franchisee shall not be required to make cable service available:
For periods of force majeure;
For periods of delay caused by the County;
For periods of delay resulting from the franchisee's inability to obtain authority to access rights-of-way in the service area;
In areas where developments or buildings are subject to claimed exclusive arrangements;
In developments or buildings that the franchisee cannot access under industry standard terms and conditions after good faith negotiation;
In developments or buildings to which the franchisee is unable to provide cable service for technical reasons or that require facilities that are not available or cannot be deployed on a commercially reasonable basis;
In areas where it is not technically feasible to provide cable service due to the technology used by the franchisee to provide cable service;
In areas where the average occupied residential household density is less than 30 occupied residential dwelling units per mile as measured in strand footage from the nearest technically feasible point on the franchisee's active cable; or
When the franchisee's prior service, payment, or theft of service history with a subscriber or potential subscriber has been unfavorable.
Should, through new construction, an area within a franchisee's service area meet the density requirement set forth in Subparagraph (c)(8), the franchisee shall, subject to the exclusions set forth in Subparagraphs (c)(1) through (7) and (9), provide cable service to such area within six months of receiving notice from the County that the density requirements have been met.
During the twelve-month period commencing after the seventh-year anniversary date of the grant of a franchise, the County may, by ordinance adopted after a public hearing in which the County specifically finds that such a requirement is necessary to promote competition in cable services within the County, require a franchisee to make service available to 80% of the residential dwelling units in the area in the County in which the franchisee has telephone facilities within no less than 10 years of the date of the grant of the franchisee's franchise, subject to the exclusions set forth in Subparagraphs (c)(1) through (9) above. If the franchisee notifies the County that it is unwilling to accept this additional service availability requirement, the County may, after notice and public hearing, terminate the franchisee's ordinance cable franchise.
A franchisee shall file with the County a certificate at its third and seventh, and, if applicable, 10th anniversary dates certifying its compliance with the foregoing service requirements.
A franchisee may elect to provide cable service to areas not meeting the density and distance standards set forth herein. The franchisee may impose an additional charge in excess of its regular installation charge for any service installation requiring a drop in or line extension in excess of the standards stated herein. Any such additional charge shall be computed on a time plus materials basis to be calculated on that portion of the installation that exceeds the standards set forth herein. Such additional charge shall be paid by the developer or landowner or customer requesting cable service in an area that does not meet the density and distance standards.
All excavation and reconstruction work by a franchisee in the public rights-of-way must be in compliance with the requirements of applicable VDOT standards. It shall be the responsibility of a franchisee to obtain any required permits, to review all applicable excavation, reconstruction, restoration, repair and permitting requirements, and to become familiar with such requirements before beginning any excavation, reconstruction, restoration or repair work in the public rights-of-way or private property.
Any equipment or facilities installed by a franchisee in the public rights-of-way shall be installed, located, erected, constructed, reconstructed, replaced, restored, removed, repaired, maintained and operated in accordance with good engineering practices, performed by experienced maintenance and construction personnel so as not (1) to endanger or interfere in any manner with improvements the County or VDOT may deem appropriate to make; or (2) to interfere with the rights of any private property owner; or (3) to hinder or obstruct pedestrian or vehicular traffic.
Whenever the County or VDOT shall determine that it is necessary in connection with the repair, relocation, or improvement of the public rights-of-way, the County or VDOT may require by written notification that any properties or facilities of the franchisee be removed or relocated. Within 60 days after receipt of notification, unless the County or VDOT extends such period for good cause shown, the franchisee shall remove or relocate its facilities to such place and under such terms and conditions as specified by the County or VDOT. The franchisee shall bear all expenses associated with the removal and relocation, except that the County or VDOT will issue, without charge to the franchisee, whatever local permits are required for the relocation of franchisee's facilities. If the franchisee does not complete its removal or relocation within 60 days or such other period as authorized by the County or VDOT, the County or VDOT may take such actions as necessary to effect such removal or relocation at the franchisee's expense.
A franchisee shall provide, without charge, within the area in the County actually served by its cable system, one cable service outlet activated for basic cable service to each fire station, public school, police station, public library, and any other governmental building.
Emergency powers. In the event of an emergency, or where a franchisee's cable system creates or is contributing to an imminent danger to health, safety, or property, or an unauthorized use of property, the franchisee shall remove or relocate any or all parts of franchisee's cable system at the request of the County. If the franchisee fails to comply with the County's request, the County may remove or relocate any or all parts of the franchisee's cable system upon reasonable notice to the franchisee and franchisee shall be responsible to reimburse the County the expense of such removal or relocation.
Emergency alert system.
The franchisee shall comply with the emergency alert system (EAS) requirements of the FCC in order that emergency messages may be distributed over the system. A franchisee shall install and thereafter maintain an EAS for use by the County.
The EAS shall at all times be operated in accordance with federal requirements and other applicable law. In the event of an emergency, as determined by the designated County official or other official designated by any approved state or local EAS plan, and subject to applicable federal and Virginia law requirements, the EAS shall be remotely activated by telephone and shall allow a representative from the County or other official designated by any approved state or local EAS plan, in the event of an emergency or for reasonable testing, to override the audio and video on all channels on the franchisee's cable system without the assistance of the franchisee.
The County or other designated body responsible under any approved state or local EAS plan shall provide reasonable notice to the franchisee prior to any test of the EAS. The franchisee shall cooperate with the County or other designated body responsible under any approved state or local EAS plan in any such test.
A franchisee shall maintain the EAS and shall periodically upgrade the EAS at the franchisee's sole expense to ensure that the EAS technology remains consistent and compatible with prevailing technology and applicable law.
A franchisee shall assure that access to cable services is not denied to any group of potential residential cable subscribers because of the income of the residents of the local area in which such group resides. The County shall have the right to monitor and inspect the deployment of cable services.