Borough of Springdale, PA
Allegheny County
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[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Springdale 1-18-1994 by Ord. No. 1165. Amendments noted where applicable.]
A. 
Short title. This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Springdale Borough Cable Television Ordinance of 1994."
B. 
Amendment and repealer. Borough of Springdale Ordinance No. 1069, enacted in 1984, is hereby amended to the extent of conflict with the provisions of this chapter. All provisions of Ordinance No. 1069 which do not conflict with this chapter shall remain in effect. All other ordinances of the Borough of Springdale are repealed to the extent of conflict with this chapter. All franchise agreements between the municipality and cable operators are abrogated to the extent, and only to the extent, inconsistent herewith, except to the extent abrogation is not required by the federal Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992[1] or the regulations promulgated thereunder.
[1]
Editor's Note: See 47 U.S.C. § 521 et seq.
C. 
Purpose. The purpose of this chapter is to regulate cable television in the exercise of the power of the governing body to regulate telephone, telegraph and electric power poles, and other obstructions erected upon or in the streets and roads of the municipality, and provide for the maintenance of peace, good government, safety and welfare of the municipality, and its trade, commerce and manufactures.
D. 
Federal law. This chapter is enacted under the federal Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992, which permits local franchising authorities to regulate cable television, subject to certain substantive and procedural limitations.
E. 
Interpretation. In interpreting and applying the provisions of this chapter, these provisions shall be construed broadly as required for the maintenance of peace, good government, safety and welfare of the municipality, and its trade, commerce and manufactures.
F. 
Severability. It is the intent of the governing body of the municipality that, if a court of competent jurisdiction declares any provisions of this chapter to be invalid or ineffective, in whole or in part, the effect of such decision shall be limited to those provisions which are expressly stated in the decision to be invalid or ineffective, and all other provisions of this chapter shall continue to be separately and fully effective.
G. 
Conflict with federal law. It is the intent of the governing body that this chapter conform to the federal law. If a court of competent jurisdiction declares any provisions of this chapter to be in conflict with the federal law, the federal law will control and this chapter, to the extent that any provision is declared to be in conflict with the federal law, shall not apply.
H. 
Effective date. This chapter shall become effective on the date it is enacted.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
ASSOCIATED EQUIPMENT
All equipment in a cable subscriber's home that is used to receive the basic service, regardless of whether such equipment is additionally used to receive other tiers of regulated programming service and/or unregulated service. Equipment shall include, but not be limited to, converter boxes, remote control units, connections for additional television receivers, and other cable home wiring.
BASIC SERVICE
At a minimum, all signals of domestic television broadcast stations provided to any subscriber (except a signal secondarily transmitted by satellite carrier beyond the local service area of such station, regardless of how such signal is ultimately received by the cable system), any public, educational, and governmental programming required by the franchise to be carried on the basic tier, and any additional video programming signals or service added to the basic tier by the cable operator.
BASIC SERVICE RATE
The rate charged by a cable operator for basic service and associated equipment costs.
CABLE OPERATOR
Any person or group of persons:
A. 
That provides cable service over a cable system and directly or through one or more affiliates owns a significant interest in such cable system; or
B. 
Who otherwise owns, controls or is responsible for, through any arrangement, the management and operation of a cable system.
A. 
The one-way transmission to subscribers of:
(1) 
Video programming; or
(2) 
Other programming service; and
B. 
Subscriber interaction, if any, which is required for the selection of such video programming or other programming service.
CABLE SYSTEM
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 which includes video programming and which is provided to multiple subscribers within a community, but 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 uses any public right-of-way;
C. 
A facility of a common carrier except to the extent that such facility is used in the transmission of video programming directly to subscribers; or
D. 
Any facilities of any electric utility used solely for operating its electric utility systems.
FCC
The Federal Communications Commission.
FEDERAL LAW
The federal Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984, as amended by the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992 and all regulations promulgated by the FCC thereunder, as any of the foregoing may be amended from time to time.[1]
GOVERNING BODY
The Council of the Borough of Springdale.
MUNICIPALITY
The Borough of Springdale.
[1]
Editor's Note: See 47 U.S.C. § 521 et seq.
A. 
Appointment and powers of compliance officer.
(1) 
For the administration of this chapter, a compliance officer, who shall not hold any elective office in the municipality, shall be appointed by the governing body.
(2) 
The compliance officer shall meet the qualifications established by the governing body and shall be able to demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the governing body, a working knowledge of cable regulation under the federal law and this chapter.
(3) 
The compliance officer shall administer this chapter in accordance with its literal terms.
B. 
Duties of compliance officer. The compliance officer shall be responsible for:
(1) 
Taking such action on behalf of the municipality as may from time to time be required to obtain or maintain the municipality's certification to regulate basic service rates.
(2) 
Notifying all cable operators serving the municipality when the municipality has been certified by the FCC to regulate basic service rates.
(3) 
Notifying all cable operators serving the municipality that the municipality intends to enforce the minimum customer service standards established by the federal law.
(4) 
Making all filings required or permitted to be made to the FCC by the municipality pursuant to the federal law, subject to oversight and control of the governing body.
(5) 
Receiving, filing in the public records of the municipality, reviewing for completeness, and placing on the governing body's agenda for consideration all submissions, petitions, and other filings required or permitted to be made to the municipality pursuant to the federal law. All submissions, petitions, and other filings made to the municipality pursuant to the federal law shall be made via first-class mail, postage prepaid, to the following address: Attention: Cable Television Compliance Officer, Borough of Springdale, 325 School Street, Springdale, Pennsylvania 15144.
(6) 
Receiving and transmitting to the proper officer of the municipality any filing fees paid pursuant to this chapter. The filing fees shall be as follows: $500, plus the municipality's public notice costs for the initial filing of a schedule of rates by a cable operator, and $250, plus the municipality's public notice costs for any rate-increase filing. These fees may be changed by resolution of the governing body.
(7) 
Enforcing the provisions of this chapter and all decisions of the governing body made hereunder to the fullest extent permitted by the federal law, subject to the oversight and control of the governing body.
(8) 
Taking such other actions as may be necessary from time to time, subject to the oversight and control of the governing body, to protect the right of the municipality to regulate cable television to the fullest extent permitted by the federal law.
A. 
Regulation of basic service rates. The governing body shall regulate basic service rates in accordance with the substantive and procedural provisions of the federal law and any applicable state law or regulations or local ordinances.
(1) 
Duties of cable operators.
(a) 
Within 30 days of receiving written notification from the municipality that the municipality has been certified by the FCC to regulate rates for the basic service, a cable operator shall file its schedule of rates for the basic service and associated equipment with the municipality, together with the fee specified by § 212-3B(6).
(b) 
At least 30 days prior to increasing its rates for the basic service, a cable operator shall notify each subscriber of the proposed rate increase and shall file a notice of its proposed rate increase with the municipality, together with the fee specified by § 212-3B(6).
(c) 
Within 20 days of filing a schedule of rates or a proposed rate increase with the municipality, a cable operator shall publish a summary of the rates or rate increase in a newspaper of general circulation for at least three consecutive days, and cablecast a summary of the rates or rate increase on its public information channel, at least twice daily at such times as are reasonably expected to reach the largest audience, over a three-day period, in each case notifying interested parties that they must submit written comments by a date certain within 30 days of the cable operator's filing with the municipality, at the appropriate address.
(d) 
A cable operator shall comply with all orders of the municipality except that a cable operator shall not be required to comply with an order if the cable operator demonstrates that complying with the order would require the cable operator to disclose proprietary information.
(2) 
Duties of the municipality.
(a) 
Within 20 days of receiving a cable operator's schedule of rates or a proposed rate increase, the municipality shall publish, at least once in a newspaper of general circulation, a notice that interested parties shall submit written comments to the municipality by a date certain within 30 days of the cable operator's filing with the municipality, at the appropriate address.
(b) 
The municipality shall make any decision on the reasonableness of current basic service rates or proposed rate increases pursuant to the procedural and substantive provisions of the federal law.
(c) 
Prior to making any decision on the reasonableness of current basic rates or proposed rate increases, the municipality shall receive comments on the matter from all interested citizens. This process shall include both the receipt of written comments as described in § 212-4A(2)(a) as well as the receipt of oral comments at a public meeting of the governing body. Oral comments may be received at the public meeting at which the rate decision is made, so long as the comments precede the final vote on the decision.
(3) 
Enforcement. In rendering its decisions, the governing body shall have the full authority granted to it pursuant to the federal law to order a cable operator to take any and all actions as the federal law permits, including, without limitation:
(a) 
Ordering a cable operator to implement a reduction in basic service tier or associated equipment rates where necessary to bring rates into compliance with the standards set forth in the federal law.
(b) 
Prescribing a reasonable rate for the basic service tier or associated equipment after it determines that a proposed rate is unreasonable.
(c) 
Ordering a cable operator to refund to subscribers that portion of previously paid rates determined to be in excess of the permitted tier charge or above the actual cost of equipment, unless the operator has submitted a cost-of-service showing which justifies the rate charged as reasonable. Before ordering such a refund, however, the municipality shall give the operator notice and shall give the operator 15 days from the date such notice is given to submit written comments to the municipality. Any such refund order shall be further subject to the limitations contained in the federal law.
(4) 
Penalties. In the event that a cable operator does not comply with a decision made pursuant to this chapter and directed specifically toward the cable operator, the cable operator shall be guilty of a summary offense punishable by a fine in an amount not to exceed $600. Every day that the violation continues shall be considered a separate offense.
A. 
Federal minimum customer service standards adopted. It is the intent of the municipality to enforce the following minimum customer service standards as established by the federal law:
(1) 
Cable system office hours and telephone availability.
(a) 
The cable operator will maintain a local, toll-free or collect call telephone access line which will be available to its subscribers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
[1] 
Trained company representatives will be available to respond to customer telephone inquiries during normal business hours.
[2] 
After normal business hours, the access line may be answered by a service or an automated response system, including an answering machine. Inquiries received after normal business hours must be responded to by a trained company representative on the next business day.
(b) 
Under normal operating conditions, telephone answer time by a customer representative, including wait time, shall not exceed 30 seconds when the connection is made. If the call needs to be transferred, transfer time shall not exceed 30 seconds. These standards shall be met no less that 90% of the time under normal operating conditions, measured on a quarterly basis.
(c) 
The operator will not be required to acquire equipment or perform surveys to measure compliance with the telephone answering standards above unless an historical record of complaints indicates a clear failure to comply.
(d) 
Under normal operating conditions, the customer will receive a busy signal less than 3% of the time.
(e) 
Customer service center and bill payment locations will be open at least during normal business hours and will be conveniently located.
(2) 
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 measured on a quarterly basis:
(a) 
Standard installations will be performed within seven business days after an order has been placed. "Standard" installations are those that are located up to 125 feet from the existing distribution system.
(b) 
Excluding conditions beyond the control of the operator, the cable operator will begin working on service interruptions promptly and in no event later than 24 hours after the interruption becomes known. The cable operator must begin actions to correct other service problems the next business day after notification of the service problem.
(c) 
The appointment window alternatives for installations, service calls, and other installation activities will be either a specific time or, at maximum, a four-hour time block during normal business hours. (The operator may schedule service calls and other installation activities outside of normal business hours for the express convenience of the customer.)
(d) 
An operator may not cancel an appointment with a customer after the close of business on the business day prior to the scheduled appointment.
(e) 
If a cable operator 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 which is convenient for the customer.
(3) 
Communications between cable operators and cable subscribers.
(a) 
Notifications to subscribers.
[1] 
The cable operator 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:
[a] 
Products and services offered;
[b] 
Prices and options for programming services and conditions of subscription to programming and other services;
[c] 
Installation and service maintenance policies;
[d] 
Instructions on how to use the cable service;
[e] 
Channel positions of programming carried on the system; and
[f] 
Billing and complaint procedures, including the address and telephone number of the local franchise authority's cable office.
[2] 
Billing.
[a] 
Bills will 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.
[b] 
In case of a billing dispute, the cable operator must respond to a written complaint from a subscriber within 30 days.
[3] 
Refunds. Refund checks will be issued promptly, but no later than either:
[a] 
The customer's next billing cycle following resolution of the request or 30 days, whichever is earlier; or
[b] 
The return of the equipment supplied by the cable operator if service is terminated.
[4] 
Credits. Credits for service will be issued no later that the customer's next billing cycle following the determination that a credit is warranted.
(4) 
Definitions. As used in this section, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
NORMAL BUSINESS HOURS
Those hours during which most similar businesses in the community are open to serve customers. In all cases, normal business hours must include some evening hours at least one night per week and/or some weekend hours.
NORMAL OPERATING CONDITIONS
Those service conditions which are within the control of the cable operator. Those conditions which are not within the control of the cable operator include, but are not limited to, natural disasters, civil disturbances, power outages, telephone network outages, and severe or unusual weather conditions. Those conditions which are ordinarily within the control of the cable operator include, but are not limited to, special promotions, pay-per-view events, rate increases, regular peak or seasonal demand periods, and maintenance or upgrade of the cable system.
SERVICE INTERRUPTION
The loss of picture or sound on one or more cable channels.
B. 
Enforcement. In furtherance thereof, the compliance officer, 90 days after giving notice to the cable operators of the municipality's intent to enforce these standards, shall have the authority and responsibility to enforce these standards to the fullest extent permitted by the federal law and in accordance with all substantive and procedural requirements of the federal law. In furtherance thereof, the compliance officer may make any and all such orders and assess any and all such penalties for violations of these standards as are permitted by the federal law, subject to the oversight and control of the governing body, including, without limitation,
(1) 
Ordering the cable operator to pay credits or refunds to the subscribers to the cable operator's system.
(2) 
Filing suit against a cable operator to compel specific performance.
(3) 
Conducting performance evaluations at the time of renewal of the cable operator's franchise agreement.
C. 
Other customer service standards not affected. All other customer service standards, whether established by franchise agreement, state law or regulation or local ordinance, and whether now or hereafter enacted, shall remain in full force and effect to the extent that such other customer service standards are not preempted by the federal law.