[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Town of Sykesville 11-9-1982 by Ord. No. 129. Amendments noted where applicable.]
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ADDITIONAL SERVICES
- Any of the following:
- A. Such video services as the transmission of all leased access signals not included in basic subscriber service, as well as the transmission of cablecast video advertising messages and pay television signals;
- B. Such audio services as the retransmission of cablecast AM or FM signals, the transmission of cablecast radio advertising messages, as permitted by the FCC;
- C. Such digital services as the transmission of digital signals including, but not limited to, two-way signals, computer signals, signals associated with fire and burglar alarm services, signals associated with home shopping, remote medical diagnosis, utility equipment monitoring, and similar services; and
- D. Services not involving the transmission of signals, including rental of equipment, training services, and all other services which may be provided by the franchisee to programmers or subscribers.
- BASIC SERVICE
- All subscriber services provided by the company in one or more service tiers, including the delivery of broadcast signals, access channels and origination channels, covered by a regular monthly charge paid by all subscribers to a particular service tier, excluding optional services for which a separate per-channel or per-program charge is made. Home security service, data retrieval or other such auxiliary services shall not be considered part of basic service.
- BROADCAST SIGNAL
- A television or radio signal that is transmitted over the air and is received by a cable television system off the air, by satellite, by microwave, or by direct connection to a broadcasting station.
- CABLE GROSS REVENUES or GROSS REVENUES
- Any and all cash, credits, property or other consideration
of any kind or nature, and all of the amounts earned or accrued, arising
from, attributable to, or in any way derived directly or indirectly
by franchisee, or an entity in any way affiliated with franchisee,
in whatever form and from all sources which are in connection with
or attributable to the operation of the cable television system within
franchisors' corporate boundaries or franchisee's provision of cable
services within franchisors' corporate boundaries.[Amended 3-12-1984 by Ord. No. 135; 5-8-2000 by Ord. No. 218]
- A. Cable gross revenues shall include, without limitation, all subscriber and customer fees and revenues earned or accrued net of bad debts, including fees and revenues for basic cable services; additional tiers; premium cable services; late charges; pay per view; program guides; installation, disconnection, reconnection, change in service or service call fees; fees for the provision, sale, rental, or lease of converters, remote controls, additional outlets and other customer premises equipment; late fees and administrative fees; barter; revenues from the sale or carriage of other cable-related services; fees paid by subscribers; revenues from the use of leased access channels; advertising revenues from the system; and revenues and compensation from home shopping programming. Cable gross revenues shall not include the value of free services not required by the franchise agreement; nor any taxes on services furnished by franchisors, or other governmental unit and which are collected by franchisee on behalf of said governmental unit. A franchise fee is not such a tax.
- B. Advertising revenues and other revenues whose sources cannot be identified with a specific subscriber shall be allocated to franchisors based upon the percentage of subscribers residing in the franchise area compared to that served from the head end serving each franchisor.
- C. All amounts earned or accrued from Internet service and/or other interactive cable services shall be included in cable gross revenues.
- CABLE TELEVISION SYSTEM (not exempted by appropriate federal, state and local codes) or COMMUNITY ANTENNA TELEVISION SYSTEM (CATV)
- A system of antennas, cables, wires, lines, towers, waveguides, or other conductors, converters, equipment or facilities, designed and constructed for the purpose of producing, receiving, transmitting, amplifying and distributing audio, video and other forms of electronic or electrical signals, located in the Town. Said definition shall not include any such facility that serves or will serve only subscribers in one or more multiple unit dwellings under common ownership, control or management, which does not use the Town's rights-of-way.
- CABLECAST SIGNAL
- A signal that is transmitted by a cable television system, including microwave links, and is not involved in a broadcast transmission path.
- A bank of frequencies, six megahertz wide, in the electromagnetic spectrum capable of carrying either one audio-visual television signal and a few nonvideo signals or a large number of nonvideo signals.
- COMMERCIAL SUBSCRIBER
- A subscriber who receives a service in a place of business, where the service may be utilized in connection with a business, trade or profession or institution.
- Any provider of a cable television system.
- An electronic device which converts signals to a frequency not susceptible to interference within the TV receiver of a subscriber, and by an appropriate channel selector which also permits a subscriber to view all signals delivered at designated dial locations.
- The Mayor and Council of the Town of Sykesville, Maryland.
- EDUCATIONAL ACCESS CHANNEL
- Any channel where educational authorities are the designated programmers.
- The Federal Communications Commission.
- Any provider of a cable communications system which receives a franchise pursuant to this chapter.
- FRANCHISE or FRANCHISE AGREEMENT
- The separate agreement by which a franchise is granted to a franchisee, pursuant to this chapter.
- LEASED ACCESS CHANNEL
- Any channel available for lease, at fair and nondiscriminatory rates, or a first-come-first-served basis, including those portions of the other access channels not in use by their designated programmers.
- LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACCESS CHANNEL
- Any channel where the Council or other local governments or agencies are the designated programmers.
- LOCAL ORGANIZATION CHANNEL
- Any channel where the franchisee is the programmer.
- Observing a communications signal, or the absence of a signal, where the observer is neither the subscriber or the programmer, whether the signal is observed by visual or electronic means, for any purpose whatsoever, provided that "monitoring" shall not include system-wide, nonindividually addressed sweeps of the system for purposes of verifying system integrity, controlling return path transmissions, or billing for pay services. Monitoring does not include tapping as herein defined.
- PAY TELEVISION
- The delivery to subscribers, over the cable communications system, or television signals for a fee or charge to subscribers over and above the charge for basic subscriber service, on a per-program, per-channel, or other subscription basis.
- PRIVATE CHANNEL
- The same as "secure channel". (See below.)
- Any person, firm, corporation, institution or entity who or which produces or otherwise provides program material for transmission by video, audio, digital, or other signals either live or from recorded tapes or films, or by other means to subscriber, by means of the cable communications system.
- PUBLIC ACCESS CHANNEL
- Any channel where any member of the general public may be a programmer, on a first-come-first-served, nondiscriminatory basis.
- PUBLIC STREET
- The surface of and the space above and below any public street, avenue, highway, boulevard, concourse, driveway, bridge, tunnel, park, parkway, waterway, dock, bulkhead, wharf, pier, alley, right-of-way, public utility easement, public utility, and any other public ground or water subject to the jurisdiction and control of the Town of Sykesville.
- RESIDENTIAL SUBSCRIBER
- A subscriber who receives a service in an individual dwelling unit, where the service is not to be utilized in connection with a business, trade, profession or institution.
- SECURE CHANNEL
- Any channel so arranged electronically as to be available only to subscribers who possess special decoding equipment in order to receive a usable signal.
- SERVICE AREA
- The geographic area in which the franchisee provides CATV service.
- Any person, firm, institution, corporation or other entity who or which elects to receive, for any purpose, a service provided by the franchisee by means of or in connection with the cable television system.
- SUBSCRIBER SERVICE DROP
- Each extension wiring from the franchisee's distribution lines to a subscriber point of use.
- Observing a two-way communications signal exchange whether the communications signal exchange is observed by visual or electronic means, for any purpose whatsoever, without the consent of all parties to the communication, subject, however, to the authority provided pursuant to Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article, § 10-401 et seq., of the Annotated Code of Maryland to intercept communications.
- TOTAL GROSS RECEIPTS
- Any and all compensation and other consideration collected or received or in any manner gained or derived by a franchisee from the operation of its CATV service within the service area of the Town.
- The Town of Sykesville, Maryland, a Maryland municipal corporation and all the territory now or hereafter acquired or annexed, within its territorial corporate limits, as set forth in the Charter of the Town.
- TOWN AGENCY
- The person, department, committee or agency designated by the Council to act for it in certain matters relating to cable television; or, if designated by the Council, the Council itself.
- TOWN MANAGER
- The Town Administrator of the Town of Sykesville, Maryland.[Added 6-11-2007 by Ord. No. 268]
The Town shall advertise for application for a CATV franchise(s) in local newspapers having general circulation and in one or more national cable industry publications. The written application for a franchise submitted to the Council shall contain the following information:
The name, address and form of business of the applicant. If the applicant is a corporation, it shall also state the percentage of ownership, and the names, address and occupations of its officers, directors and major stockholders (5% or more), and the names and addresses of any parent or subsidiary companies. If applicant is a corporation controlled by another corporation, the names, addresses and occupations of the officers, directors and major stockholders (owner of 5% or more) of the controlling corporation shall also be stated. If the applicant is a partnership or other unincorporated association, the percentage of ownership and the name and address of each member, whether active or inactive, shall be set forth, and if one or more partners are corporations, the names, addresses and occupations of such corporation's officers, directors and major stockholders shall also be stated. It shall also specify the names and technical and professional qualifications and career backgrounds of the persons who will manage the system proposed by the applicant.
A list of all other cable television systems, if any, in which the applicant (or any partner or major stockholder of applicant) has substantial interest (5% or more), stating the location, approximate number of homes served, the name and address of the local franchising body.
A thorough description of the proposed cable television system to be installed and operated and the time schedule for such installation, and the manner in which the applicant proposes to conduct, install, maintain and operate the same. The description shall contain sufficient technical detail to enable the Council to make a determination as to whether the proposed system is technically equal to or superior to that proposed by other applicants.
A schedule of proposed rates and charges to all classes of subscribers for both installation and monthly service.
A statement setting forth all agreements and understandings, whether written, oral or implied, existing between the applicant and any person, firm or corporation with respect to the proposed franchise or the proposed CATV operation. If a franchise is granted hereafter to a person, firm or corporation posing as a front or as the representative of another person, firm or corporation, and such information is not disclosed in the original application, such franchise shall be forfeited and the franchisee shall forfeit all revenues and any bond to the Town.
A financial statement prepared by a certified public accountant, or person otherwise satisfactory to the Council, and/or such other financial documents as may be required by the Council, showing applicant's financial status and his financial ability to complete the construction and installation of the approved CATV system. Such statements shall include, in addition to the foregoing, a responsible estimate of the costs of construction and installation of such CATV system and a detailed statement of the financing of such costs, the amount of borrowed funds, if any, which may be required and including the source and availability thereof.
The Council may at any time demand, and applicant shall provide, such supplementary, additional or other information as the Council deems reasonably necessary to show the applicant's true ownership and control and financial, technical and character qualifications.
The applicant shall specifically set forth that it will comply with each of the provisions of this chapter and/or Town rules and regulations related thereto.
The applicant may submit any other information it feels relevant or that will enhance its proposal.
The applicant will accompany its application with a cash deposit or certified check as specified in the request for proposal, payable to the Town which sum shall be returned (without interest) to the applicant if it is not successful in being awarded a franchise. In the event the applicant is successful, the said deposit shall be returned (without interest) to the applicant at the time the franchise is accepted by the applicant and a performance bond, as hereafter required, is filed with the Town; provided, however, that, if a franchise is awarded and not accepted within 60 days of the award, or the performance bond is not filed within that time, said deposit shall be forfeited to the Town as liquidated damages, and the Council shall have no further obligation to the applicant.
In addition to the deposit mentioned in Subsection J above, the applicant will accompany the application with a check made payable to the Town in the amount of not less than $1,000 to help defray the administrative costs involved in the processing of applications. No part of this sum shall be refundable. In addition, the successful bidder shall remit to the Town the difference between the aggregate of application deposits received and the actual prefranchise award administrative costs incurred by the Town if any. Payment must be received by the Town prior to its execution of the franchise agreement.
The Council reserves the right to reject any or all applications. The Council, following the receipt of application(s) may hold a public hearing to hear comments on the application(s), may give the public 30 days advance notice of any such hearing by publishing the notice in a newspaper of general circulation in Carroll County. At such public hearing, if any, the applicant(s) shall be requested to make a presentation and answer questions propounded by the public or Council relating to any aspect of their application.
[Amended 3-12-1984 by Ord. No. 135]
Following the public hearing(s), although not necessarily on the same date(s), the Council may reject any or all applications or take such action empowered to it by law.
By resolution, the Council may grant a franchise for a CATV system to any such applicant(s) as may appear from said application(s) to be, in the Council's opinion, best qualified to render proper and efficient CATV service to television viewers and subscribers in the service area. If favorably considered, the application submitted shall constitute and form part of the franchise agreement, except as otherwise indicated in the franchise agreement.
General provisions. Every franchisee granted pursuant to this chapter shall be subject to the following:
Federal, state and local laws, rules and regulations, ordinances and resolutions, including those governing the monitoring and tapping of cablecast signal and the penalties for violation thereof.
Any franchise granted hereunder shall be subject to the right of the Council:
To terminate the same for misuse, or failure to comply with any material provisions of this chapter, or any federal, state or local laws, ordinances, rules or regulations.
To require proper and adequate extension of plant, service and maintenance thereof at the highest practicable standards consistent with the current state of the art.
To control and regulate the use of its streets, alleys, bridges and public places and the space above and beneath them. Each franchisee shall pay such part of the cost of improvement or maintenance of streets, alleys, bridges and public places, as shall arise from the franchisee's use thereof and shall protect and save the county, Town, the Council, their agents, employees and servants harmless from all claims and/or damages arising from said use.
To require joint use of the property and appurtenances of each franchisee located in the streets, alleys and public places of the Town, by the Council and insofar as such joint use may be reasonable and practicable.
Through its appropriately designated representatives, to inspect all construction or installation work performed subject to the provisions of the franchise agreement, and this chapter and any amendments, rule or regulation thereunder and make such inspections as it shall feel necessary to insure compliance therewith. However, the franchise shall remain primarily responsible for design and installation and for compliance with all requirements.
To require, at the expiration of the term for which this franchise is granted or upon the termination and cancellation as provided herein, the franchisee to remove, at its own expense any and all portions of the CATV system from the public ways within the service area within a reasonable period of time, as established by the Council.
The franchise shall not be transferred or assigned, either in whole or in part, or leased, sublet, or mortgaged in any manner, nor shall title thereto, either legal or equitable, or any right, interest or property therein, pass to or vest in any person, corporation, association or other entity either by act of the franchisee or by operation of law, without the written consent of the Council and under such terms and conditions as the Council may require after formal Council action.
Prior approval of the Council (following formal Council action) shall be required where control of more than 25% of the franchisee is proposed to be acquired by a person, partnership, association, corporation or group of persons acting in concert, none of whom own or control 25% or more of such right of control, singularly or collectively at the time the franchise is granted. By its acceptance of a franchise, the franchisee specifically acknowledges and agrees that any such acquisition occurring without prior approval of the Council shall constitute a material violation of a franchise.
The franchise shall be nonexclusive and shall be for terms of up to 15 years which may be renewed under such conditions as may be in effect at that time.
[Amended 5-8-2000 by Ord. No. 218]
Unless waived by the Council in writing, the franchisee shall be bound and governed by the rules and regulations contained in the FCC Cable TV Report and Order as set out in 47 CFR Part 76 (1972) and applicable FCC regulations, except as otherwise modified by this chapter as well as applicable local and state laws, ordinances and regulations.
Selling of lists; monitoring; tapping.
The company, or any of its agents or employees, shall not sell, or otherwise make available to any party, lists of the names and addresses of subscribers, or any list which identifies the viewing habits of individual subscribers, subject, however, to the right of the Town agency to audit the records of the franchise to establish compliance with the agreement of the franchisee and the Town. This section does not prohibit the company from providing composite ratings of subscriber viewing to any party.
No signals transmitted from a subscriber terminal shall be monitored by the company in order to determine patterns or practices without the express written permission of the subscriber. The request for such permission shall be contained in a separate document with a prominent statement that the subscriber is authorizing the permission in full knowledge of its provisions. Such written permission shall be for a limited period of time not to exceed one year, which shall be renewable at the option of the subscriber. No penalty shall be invoked for a subscriber's failure to provide or renew such an authorization. (This statement must be in authorization.) The authorization shall be revocable at any time by the subscriber without penalty of any kind whatsoever. Such authorization is required for each type or classification of cable television activity planned; provided, however, that the company shall be entitled to conduct system-wide or individually addressed "sweeps" for the purpose of verifying system integrity, controlling return-path transmission, or billing for pay services.
The application of the franchise shall be incorporated by reference in the franchise agreement. The franchise agreement shall contain such further conditions or provisions as may be negotiated by the Council and the franchisee. In case of conflict or ambiguity between any terms or provisions of the franchise agreement and this chapter, the terms of the franchise agreement shall control if otherwise permitted by law.
[Amended 3-12-1984 by Ord. No. 135]
Detailed plans and specifications for the installation of works of improvements authorized herein shall first be approved by the Town of Sykesville or its authorized agents during construction to ensure quality control and compliance to plans, specifications and applicable costs.
[Amended 5-8-2000 by Ord. No. 218]
Use of existing facilities.
The franchisee shall, when and where practicable, lease, rent, or in any other lawful manner, obtain the use of towers, poles, conduits, lines, cables and other equipment and facilities, from present holders of public licenses and franchises within the corporate limits of the Town, and said towers, poles, conduits, lines, cables, and other equipment and facilities on such terms as agreed, subject to all existing and future ordinances and regulations of the county. Copies of all agreements with such public utilities operating within the Town shall be placed on file in the office of the Town agency immediately upon their execution. 
Wherever such facilities are not reasonably available from the sources specified in Subsection A hereof, the franchisee shall have the right to erect and maintain its own poles, conduits and related facilities as may be necessary for the proper construction and maintenance of its cable television distribution system, subject to applicable laws, ordinances and regulations and restrictions of titles.
Placement and relocation of equipment; road work; restoration of pavement; tree trimming.
All transmission and distribution structures, lines and equipment erected by the franchisee within the City shall be so located as to cause minimum interference with the proper uses of streets, alleys and of the public ways and places, and to cause minimum interference with the rights or reasonable convenience of property owners who adjoin any of the said streets, alleys, or other public ways and places. Any opening or obstruction in the streets or other public places made by the franchisee in the course of its operations shall be guarded and protected at all times by the placement of adequate barriers, fences or boardings, the bounds of which, during periods of dusk and darkness, shall be clearly designated by warning lights.
In case of any disturbance of pavement, sidewalk, driveway or other surfacing, the franchisee shall, at its own cost and expense and in a manner authorized by the Town replace and restore all paving, sidewalk, driveway or surface of any street or alley disturbed, in as good condition as before said work was commenced, and shall maintain the restoration in an approved condition.
In the event that at any time during the period of this franchise the Town shall lawfully elect to alter, or change the grade of any public street, water main or sewer mains, the franchisee upon reasonable notice by the Town shall remove, relay, and relocate its poles, wires, cables, underground conduits, manholes and other telephone fixtures at its own expense.
The franchisee shall not place new poles or other fixtures where the same will interfere with any gas, electric or telephone fixtures, water hydrant or main, sewer main, sewer and water services, or other fixtures placed in any street and shall, where practicable, be placed at the outer edge of the sidewalk and inside the curb line, and those placed in alleys shall be placed close to the line of the lot abutting on said alley, and then in such a manner as not to interfere with the usual travel on said public streets.
The franchisee shall, upon the request of any person holding a building moving permit, temporarily raise or lower its wires to permit the moving of buildings. The expense of such temporary removal, raising or lowering of wires shall be paid by the person requesting the same, and the franchisee shall have the authority to require such payment in advance. The franchisee shall be given no less than 48 hours advance notice to arrange for such temporary wire changes.
The franchisee shall be required to trim trees upon and overhanging streets, alleys, sidewalks and public places of the Town so as to prevent the branches of such trees from coming in contact with the wires and cables of the franchisee, all trimming to be done at the expense of the franchisee.
The construction and maintenance of the cable television system, including house connections, shall be in accordance with the provisions of the Electrical Code currently in effect in the Town and such applicable laws and regulations of the Town, county, State of Maryland, and of the United States, affecting such installations, which may be presently in effect or may be from time to time in the future in effect, including a securing of all permits for such construction and maintenance required by applicable law. All structures, equipment, lines and connections shall be of permanent nature, durable, and installed in accordance with good engineering practice, and maintained in a safe, suitable and substantial condition in good order and repair wherever situated or located. 
Copies of all petitions, applications and communications by or to the franchisee involving the Federal Communications Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission, or any other state or county or Town regulatory commission or agency or department having jurisdiction in respect to any matters affecting the franchisee shall also be furnished simultaneously to the Town agency by the franchisee.
The franchisee or applicant for franchise shall have all necessary permits and authorizations required in the conduct of its business.
Upon granting of any franchise as herein contemplated, the franchisee shall, throughout the life of such franchise, keep the Town agency, fully informed with respect to the matters specified below, and the failure to disclose such information during the life of such franchise shall be considered a material violation of the franchise, and subject such franchisee, at the discretion of the Council, to suspension or termination.
Each franchisee shall allow the Town agency to audit all of its accounting and financial records upon reasonable notice; make available all of its plans, contracts, and engineering, statistical, customer and service records relating to its system and to all other records required to be kept hereunder; and at all times maintain complete and accurate books of accounts, records of its business and operations, and all other records required by this specification.
Each franchisee shall file annually with the Town agency a report indicating all persons who, at any time during the preceding year, did control an interest in the franchise of _____ % or more setting forth for each the extent of this interest and all creditors, secured and unsecured, in excess of $1,000 setting forth for each the amounts owed.
Each franchisee shall annually file a report detailing maintenance, state of the art improvements, signal strength and signal quality at the subscriber end of the system.
Each franchisee shall also file annually such other information concerning its operating as may be required by the Town agency or Council. The Council shall retain, throughout the life of any franchise given in pursuance of this chapter, the right to demand such supplemental, additional or other information as above noted, and upon proof of the failure to supply such information upon reasonable demand, the franchise under which any applicant may be operating may, at the option of the Council, be suspended upon order of the Council until such information is forthcoming.
Each franchisee shall file a plan on an annual basis showing its plans for extending its service to those parts of the service area unserved at that time.
Number of channels. The franchisee's distribution system shall be capable of carrying all AM, FM and TV signals originated in the Washington, Baltimore and Harrisburg areas required or allowed to be carried by the FCC. The system capacity in the forward path shall be at least 25 channels. The system shall have the capability of providing simultaneous reverse direction signals for digital, audio and video signal transmission on all elements of the system when and as allowed by the FCC.
The antenna, receiving and distribution equipment shall be installed and maintained so as to provide pictures on subscriber receivers throughout the system essentially of the same quality as those received at the antenna site.
Installation and maintenance of equipment shall be such that standard NTSC color signals shall be transmitted with full fidelity to any subscriber color receiver. The franchisee shall maintain its service in accordance with such reasonable standards regarding uniformity of transmission, noise levels, channel signal, voltages as may from time to time be established.
Whenever it is necessary to shut off or interrupt service for the purpose of making repairs, adjustments or installations, the franchisee shall do so at times as will cause the least amount of inconvenience to its customers, and unless such interruption is unforeseen and immediately necessary, it shall give reasonable notice thereof to its customers.
Use of channels.
[Amended 5-8-2000 by Ord. No. 218]
There shall be at least three channels designated as public channels, one for public access, one for local government access and one for education access, as defined elsewhere herein.
Pay TV shall be allowed on secure channels only. Advertising shall be allowed subject to restrictions imposed by FCC or other applicable rules or regulations.
The franchisee is prohibited from censoring any program which is cablecast over public channels except such censoring as is required by FCC or other applicable rules and regulations.
Charges made by the franchisee to a programmer, except for public channels, shall be based upon the fair market value of the service and no other criteria. A franchisee is prohibited from unlawfully discriminating among users or in favor of himself.
The educational, government and public access channels shall be made available free of charge; however, charges for equipment, personnel and production of public access programming shall be reasonable and consistent with the goal of affording users a low-cost means of television access. No equipment, personnel or production charges shall be made for live public access programs not exceeding five minutes in length per day.
The system shall be engineered to provide an audio alert system to allow authorized officials as designated by the Council to automatically over-ride the audio signal on all channels and transmit and report emergency information.
Subscriber equipment. The franchisee shall provide every subscriber with all equipment necessary for reception on the subscriber's set of channels to which he has subscribed; however, a provision shall be made in the rate schedule whereby the subscriber charge shall be less if the subscriber furnishes a converter.
State of the art. The franchisee shall continually upgrade its facilities, equipment and service so that its system is as advanced as the current state of technology will allow. Compliance with the provision shall be determined by the agency.
Public service installations and basic service. The franchisee shall provide one free installation and free basic service at all municipal buildings, police stations, fire stations, schools, hospitals, jail and libraries within the service area. Such installations shall be made at such reasonable locations as shall be requested by the respective units of government or education institutions. Any charge for relocation of such installations shall, however, be charged at actual costs. Additional installations at the same location may be made at cost plus 10%. No monthly service charges shall be made for distribution of the franchisee's signals within such publicly owned buildings.
Other business activities. In the conduct of the business franchised hereunder, neither the franchisee nor its officers, employees, or agents shall sell, repair or install, or recommend the sale, repair or installation of radio or television receivers; provided, however, that nothing herein shall be deemed to prohibit franchisee, at customer's request and without payment, from examining and adjusting a customer’s receiver set to determine whether reception difficulties originate in said set or in franchisee’s system. The franchise granted pursuant hereto authorizes only the operation of a system as provided for herein, and does not take the place of any other franchise, license or permit which might be required by law of the franchisee in order to install its system.
Interconnection. The franchisee shall be capable of interconnecting its system or any part thereof with any other broadband communications facility operating in the Town or county and/or the adjacent jurisdictions. The interconnection shall be made within 60 days of an order by the Council to proceed, unless for good cause shown by the franchisee, a reasonable time extension is granted by the Town agency.
Building apartments. No franchisee shall be required to pay any fee to the building owner(s) to provide cable television service to any member of the public in any privately owned buildings which are in the Town. Any disputes between franchisee and any building owner shall be heard at and resolved by a hearing by the Town agency. Each franchisee shall report to the Town agency any building owner who requests a fee from the franchisee as a condition for allowing the franchisee to install a cable system service in the building owner's building. A franchisee is expressly prohibited from entering into any agreement with an owner of a multiple dwelling unit, which would increase the rates, or increase or decrease services to a subscriber residing in the dwelling other than with medical organizations or education or charitable institutions; however, this shall not contravene the provision of Subsection F above.
Repair. Any damage caused to the property of building owners or users or any other person by the franchisee shall be repaired by the franchisee.
Removal of facilities upon request. Upon termination of service to any subscriber, the franchisee shall promptly remove all its facilities and equipment from the premises of such subscriber upon his written request. Franchisee shall not charge a fee for same.
Material and tapping violations.
Revocation or surrender of franchise; removal of equipment.
In the event of failure of the franchisee to commence to render community television service to the residents of the service area as contemplated and provided or by a franchise within a period of 12 months from the date of the grant of a franchise, the Council shall consider this as a material violation of the franchise and therefore have the right to revoke this franchise and all rights of the franchisee hereunder.
If the franchisee shall fail to comply with any of the provisions of the ordinance, or default in any of its obligations, except for causes beyond the reasonable control of the franchisee, as heretofore provided and shall fail, within 30 days after written notice from the Town to correct such default or noncompliance, the Council shall consider this as a material violation of the franchise and therefore have the right to revoke this franchise and all rights of the franchisee hereunder.
Upon the termination of this franchise or any renewal thereof, the franchisee shall remove its posts, poles, and all aboveground equipment from the streets, lanes, sidewalks, highways, alleys, bridges and other public places in the service area and shall restore such streets, lanes, highways, sidewalks, alleys, bridges and other public places to their original condition. Following termination of this franchise, any property owned by the franchisee and not removed from properties within six months from the termination date, will become the property of the Town to do with as it may choose. Any cost occurring to the Town in removing the franchisee's former possessions from Town streets or land will be a claim against the franchisee.
The franchisee may surrender this franchise at any time upon filing with the Town, a written notice of its intention to do so, at least 60 days before the surrender date. On the surrender date specified in such notice, all the rights and privileges, and all of the obligations, duties and liabilities of the franchisee under this chapter, shall cease and terminate, except that the franchisee shall have an additional six months to remove its plant and equipment from Town streets and all other public lands upon which it is located. At the end of said six months, any property owned by the franchisee and not removed from properties will become the property of the Town, to do with as it may choose. Any costs occurring to the Town in removing the franchisee's former possessions from Town streets or land will be a claim against the franchisee.
Tapping shall constitute immediate grounds for the revocation of the franchise. The prosecution of any person for tapping shall not be a bar to the revocation of the franchise granted hereunder. Upon an allegation that the franchisee has engaged in tapping, the Council shall give notice to the franchisee that a hearing will be conducted to consider whether or not franchisee has engaged in tapping. At the hearing, the franchisee and any interested person may be heard on the issue of whether or not the franchisee engaged in tapping. Should the Council find in its discretion that the franchisee engaged in tapping, the Council may suspend or revoke the franchise granted hereunder.
In order that the Town, or its designee, may exercise its option to take over the facilities and property of the system as authorized herein upon expiration or forfeiture or revocation of the rights and privileges of the franchisee, the franchisee shall not make, execute or enter into any deed, deed of trust, mortgage, contract, conditional sales contract, or any loan, lease pledge, sale gift or any other agreement concerning any of the rights, facilities or property, real or personal, of the system without prior approval of the Council and upon the Council's determination that the transaction proposed by the franchisee will not be harmful to the rights of the Town under this franchise; provided, however, that this section shall not apply to the disposition or replacement of worn out or obsolete facilities or personal property in the normal course of carrying on the CATV business, or to routine contractual relationships entered into in the ordinary course of the cable business.
The franchise herein granted shall, at the option of the Council, cease and terminate upon the appointment of a receiver or receivers or trustee or trustees to take over and conduct the business of the franchisee whether in a receivership, reorganization, bankruptcy or other similar action or proceeding. In the case of a foreclosure or other judicial sale of the plant, property and equipment of the franchisee, or any part thereof, including or excluding this franchise, the Council may serve notice of termination upon the franchisee and the successful bidder at such sale, in which event, the franchise herein granted and all rights and privileges of the franchisee hereunder shall cease and terminate 30 days after service of such notice, unless:
The franchisee shall not oppose intervention by the Town in any suit or proceeding to which the franchisee is a party.
The franchisee shall maintain within 20 miles of the service area, a local business office or designated agent for the purpose of receiving and resolving all complaints regarding the quality of service, equipment malfunctions and other similar matters.
The franchisee shall provide a toll-free telephone number at which subscribers may contact the franchisee or agent thereof on a twenty-four-hour basis in the case of emergencies, and shall list such number in the local telephone directory, and shall notify its subscribers of such service.
Complaints by subscribers may be filed with the franchisee is writing or delivered to the franchisee orally in person or by means of the telephone.
Any complaints received from subscribers shall be investigated by the franchisee and service restored at least within 48 hours of their receipt. In the event service is not restored within 48 hours, the subscriber shall be credited with a reduction in his monthly payment for each full day or portion of a day that such service is not restored by determining from the monthly charge the prorated charge for each day's service, then multiplying said daily charge by the number of days during which service was not wholly restored and subtracting the result from the monthly charge.
The franchisee shall keep a maintenance service log that will indicate the nature of each complaint, the name of the employee of the franchisee receiving the complaint, the date and time it was received, the disposition of the complaint and the time and date thereof. In said log the franchisee shall state the specific steps taken by the company to remedy the complaint. This log shall be made available for periodic inspection by the Town.
The procedure for reporting and resolving complaints shall be stated in writing by the franchisee to each subscriber at the time of initial subscription to the cable system.
The franchisee shall maintain the staff and facilities needed to properly handle system maintenance and complaints.
The franchisee shall maintain a duty roster of qualified technicians to respond to complaints or malfunctions at other than normal office hours.
Liability and indemnification of the Town and Council. The franchisee shall indemnify and hold harmless the Town and Council, its agents, servants, officials and employees, at all times and specifically agrees that it will pay all damages and costs which the Town or Council or its agents, servants, officials or employees may be legally required to pay arising from the franchise granted herein. Such damages and penalties shall include, but not be limited to, damages arising out of copyright infringements, and other damages arising out of the installation, operation or maintenance of the CATV system authorized, allowed, or prohibited by the franchise. In the event suit shall be filed against the Town, Council or its agents, servants, officials or employees either independently or jointly with the franchisee to recover for any claim or damages, the franchisee, upon notice to it by the Council shall defend the Council, Town, or its agents, servants, officials, or employees, as the case may be, against the action and, in the event of a final judgment being obtained against any of them, either independently or jointly with the franchisee by reason of the acts of the franchisee, the franchisee will pay said judgment and all costs and legal fees, and hold the Town and Council, its agents, servants, officials and employees harmless therefrom.
Faithful performance bond. The franchisee shall, concurrently with its acceptance of a franchise, file with the Town of Sykesville, at franchisee's sole expense, a corporate surety bond with a responsible company approved by the Town of Sykesville and licensed to do business in Maryland, in the amount of not less than $100,000, renewable annually, and conditioned upon the faithful performance of franchisee, and upon the further condition that in the event franchisee shall fail to comply with any one or more of the provisions of the franchise[e] agreement or ordinance, there shall be recoverable, jointly and severally from the principal and surety of such bond, any damages or losses suffered by the Town of Sykesville or subscribers as a result thereof, including the full amount of any compensation, indemnification or cost of removal or abandonment of any property of the franchisee as prescribed hereby, plus a reasonable allowance for attorney's fees and costs, said condition to be a continuing obligation on the part of the franchisee to the Town of Sykesville that may arise from the acceptance of the franchise or its renewal or from the exercise of any privilege or right herein granted. The bond shall provide that at least 30 days' prior written notice of intention not to renew or to cancel or of any material change, be given by the surety company by filing the same with the Town agency.
[Amended 5-8-2000 by Ord. No. 218]
Insurance. Franchisee shall carry insurance in such forms and in such companies as shall be approved by the Town agency, such approval not to be unreasonably withheld, to protect the Town of Sykesville, its agents, servants, officials and employees and the franchisee from and against any and all claims, injury or damage. The insurance policies and performance bonds obtained by the franchisee in compliance with this and other sections shall be issued by a company, or companies, acceptable to the Town agency and a current certificate or certificates of insurance and bonding, along with written evidence of payment of all required premiums, shall be filed and maintained with the Town agency during the term of the franchise and prior to the commencement of construction. Said policies shall name the Town of Sykesville as an additional insured and shall contain a provision that a written notice of cancellation or reduction in coverage of said policy shall be delivered to the Town agency 30 days in advance of the effective date thereof. The policies shall protect the Town of Sykesville, its agents, servants, officials and employees and the franchise from and against any and all claims, injury or damage to persons or property both real and personal, caused by the construction, erection, operation or maintenance of the system. The amount of such insurance shall be in the discretion of the Town of Sykesville but not be less than the amount set forth in the franchise agreement.
[Amended 5-8-2000 by Ord. No. 218]
Workmen's compensation insurance shall also be provided as required by the laws of the State of Maryland.
Nonwaiver. Neither the provisions of the section, nor any bonds accepted by the Council or Town agency pursuant hereto, or any damage recovered by the Town thereunder, shall be construed to excuse unfaithful performance by the franchisee or limit the liability of the franchisee under this chapter or the franchise for damages, either to the full amount of the bond or otherwise.
The franchisee shall extend the installation of cables, amplifiers, and related equipment throughout the area covered by the franchise as rapidly as practicable. Service shall be extended throughout the service area as soon as practicable or as directed by the Town agency, but no later than one year following the issuance of the franchise.
The franchisee shall file a map and program report with the agency at the close of each calendar year, showing the exact area of the Town being served by the cable television system and the location and identification of major component parts of the system and plans for future service extensions by year.
The franchisee shall receive no consideration whatsoever from its subscribers for or in connection with its service to its subscribers other than in accordance with this section, and initial rates shall be established by agreement between the applicant and the Council and shall be set forth in the franchise agreement. Subscriber rates shall be at least as favorable as those offered by the franchisee to other areas of the county; that is, if the franchisee makes lower subscriber rates applicable elsewhere in the county, those note rates shall become effective in the service area as of the date of their applicability elsewhere in the county. To this connection, the term "franchise" shall include any person, entity or firm that is a subsidiary of the franchisee or part of its controlled group as that term is used in the Internal Revenue Code.
Rate schedule. An applicant for a franchise shall include, as a minimum, in its application its proposed initial rates and charges for the categories and types of service listed below. The rates shall remain in effect for at least one year after commencement of service in the Town. Thereafter, these rates shall be changed when appropriate, in accordance with the provisions of this section:
Advance charges. The franchisee shall be permitted to require advance payment for installation fees and for one month's advance service fee. The franchisee shall require no other deposit, advance payment or penalty from any subscriber or potential subscriber without prior approval of the Town agency.
Rate change procedures and requests for rate increases.
The Town shall have the authority to review the following rates, fees and charges:
Rates for the provision of basic service to subscribers, whether residential or commercial.
Rates for the connection, installation and reinstatement (including converters) of basic service, whether residential or commercial.
Rates for installation, connection and reinstatement of basic service where unusual circumstances exist such as remote or inaccessible subscriber locations or subscriber-requested underground service drops.
Any other rates, as may be permitted under FCC rules.
The Company may petition the Town for a change in rates by filing, in quadruplicate, a proposed rate schedule with the which petition shall include the justification(s) for the proposed schedule. Said petition shall be filed at least 90 days prior to the requested implementation date of the rate change. One copy of the petition shall be available for public inspection at a convenient public place during normal business hours.
Within 60 days of the filing of the petition for rate change, the Town may hold an appropriate public hearing to consider the proposed rate change, at which hearing all persons desiring to be heard, including the company, shall be heard on any matter, including but not limited to the performance of the company, its services, and the proposed new rates.
If within 60 days of the filing of the petition for rate change, a request for a public hearing is made by petition signed by no less than 5% of the subscribers in a given service area, the Town shall schedule a public hearing to be held within 60 days of the filing of the request for hearing.
Upon notice of any public hearing as provided in Subsection C(3) and (4) above, the company shall notify its subscribers of the time, place and subject matter of the public hearing by announcement on at least two local origination channels of its system between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., for at least five consecutive days prior to the hearing. In addition, notice of any public hearing shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation at least once, but may be published two or more times, provided that one publication occurs not less than seven days nor more than 14 days before the public hearing. The company shall be responsible for publication and associated costs.
Within 60 days after said hearing, the Town shall render a written decision on the company's petition, either accepting, rejecting, modifying or deferring the same and reciting the basis for its decision.
The Town shall consider the following factors in approving or disapproving the petition:
The ability of the company to render system services and to derive a reasonable profit therefrom under the existing rate schedule and under the proposed rate schedule;
The revenues and profits derived from system services;
The efficiency of the company;
The quality of the service offered by the company;
The original cost of the system less depreciation;
A fair rate of return with respect to the cost of borrowing and the rates of return on investments having similar risks to that of cable television;
The extent to which the company has adhered to the terms of this agreement; and
Fairness to Town residents, subscribers and users.
The Town shall not consider any valuation based upon the franchise granted or the company's good will, and these items of value shall neither be amortized as an expense nor shall a return be paid on them.
The decision of the Town must be voted upon by each member of the Town Council within this sixty-day period.
If no final decision on the company's petition has been rendered by the members of the Town Council within 180 days of the request, the company's petition will be deemed approved. However, no rate change may take effect if any member of the Town Council has specifically disapproved the proposed rate change.
Financial reports and accounting records.
The company's petition for a rate increase shall include, but not be limited to, the following financial reports, which shall reflect only the operations of its CATV system for this Town:
The company's accounting records applicable to the CATV system shall be available for inspection by the Town at all reasonable times. The Commission shall have access to records of financial transactions for the purpose of verifying burden rates or other indirect costs prorated to the CATV operation. The documents listed shall include sufficient detail and/or footnotes as may be necessary to provide the Town with the information needed to make accurate determinations as to the financial condition of the system. All financial statements shall be certified as accurate by an officer of the company.
Alternate procedure for rate changes and requests for rate increases. In lieu of or in addition to procedures set forth above, the Town of Sykesville may agree in any franchise agreement for other and different procedures and rate changes and requests for rate increases including the fixing thereof by any commission now or hereafter established for this purpose in accordance with the franchise agreement.
[Added 3-12-1984 by Ord. No. 135]
Refunds to subscribers.
If, during the term of the franchise, the franchisee receives refunds or any payments made for television or radio signals, it shall, within a reasonable time, notify the Town agency and suggest a plan for the flow-through of the refunds to its subscribers.
If any subscriber terminates service within one year of connection because of the franchisee's failure to render service to such subscriber of a type and quality, and in the manner provided for herein, or because the franchisee ceases to operate the system authorized herein for any reason except expiration of the franchise, the franchisee shall refund to such subscriber the initial connection charges. In cases where customer complaints are unsatisfied by the franchisee's responses to legitimate complaints of service failures, poor service, inferior audio or video signals, the Town agency shall have the power to:
Annual fee. During the term of any franchise granted pursuant to this chapter, the franchisee shall pay the Town of Sykesville for the use of its streets and public ways and other facilities, as well as the maintenance, improvements, and supervision thereof, an annual franchise fee as specified in the franchise agreement.
[Amended 5-8-2000 by Ord. No. 218]
Method of computation. Payments due under the terms of the franchise shall be computed quarterly and paid within 30 days of the end of each quarter, that is, within 30 days after December 31, March 31, June 30 and September 30, respectively. The Town agency shall he furnished with a statement with each payment, certified as correct by the franchisee, and an annual statement for the entire year, prepared by a certified public accountant. All statements shall reflect the total amount of gross subscriber revenues. Statements accompanying payments of the franchise fee shall set forth a detailed computation of the payment. The Town agency reserves the right to reasonable inspection of the books, records, maps, plans and other material of the franchisee.
Right of recomputation. No acceptance of any payment shall be construed as a release or as an accord and satisfaction of any claims the Town may have for further or additional sums payable as a franchise fee under the franchise agreement or for the performance of any other obligation hereunder.
Failure to make required payment. Failure to pay any fees required by this section shall be considered a material violation of the franchise in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this chapter, and shall, at the option of the Council, result in suspension or termination of the franchise granted, and reinstatement thereof may, at the option of the Council, be had upon payment of the delinquent fee or fees, plus any interest and/or penalties as may be required by the Council.
Until such time as the Council establishes a separate Town agency, the Council itself shall have the powers of the Town agency. The Town agency, in addition to any functions assigned to it elsewhere in this chapter, may have the following functions:
Advise the Council on matters which might constitute grounds for revocation of a franchise or other enforcement action in accordance with this specification.
Resolve disagreements among the franchisee, subscribers and public and private users of a system; such decision of the Town agency shall be appealable to the Council in the event the Council does not designate itself as the Town agency.
Advise the Council on the regulation of rates in accordance with this chapter.
Coordinate the franchisee's services for best public use of facilities and channels. of the system.
Determine general policy relating to the service provided subscribers and the operation and use of public channels, with a view to maximizing the diversity of programs and services to subscribers. The use of public charnels shall be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis, subject to limitations on monopolization of system time or prime times.
Encourage use of public channels among the widest range of institutions, groups and individuals. This endeavor shall be conducted with a view toward establishing different categories of uses.
Cooperate with other systems and coordinate interconnection of systems.
Audit all franchisee records required by this chapter and require the preparation and filing of information additional to that required herein.
Citizen advisory committees may be established as the need arises.
Captions. The captions to sections are inserted solely for information and shall not affect the meaning or interpretation of the chapter.
Recourse. The franchisee shall have no recourse whatsoever against the Council or Town or its officers, officials, boards, commissions, agents or employees for any loss, cost, expense or damage arising out of any provisions or requirements of this franchise or because of its enforcement except as may be provided herein.
Arbitration. In the event the Council and franchisee are unable to agree as to franchise amendments or any other matter that may be made subject to arbitration by this chapter, then each party shall designate an arbitrator, and these two arbitrators shall in turn select a third arbitrator. The three arbitrators, by majority vote, made subject to arbitration by this chapter. If this method fails or for any reason cannot be followed, then arbitration shall be conducted in accordance with § 3-201 et seq., Courts and Judicial Proceedings, of the Annotated Code of Maryland.
Costs. Except where otherwise expressly stated herein, all costs incurred by a franchisee in connection inch any provision of this chapter shall be borne by the franchisee.
Tapping shall constitute a misdemeanor. Any person found guilty of tapping is subject to punishment under the provisions of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article, § 10-402 of the Annotated Code of Maryland, when the act of tapping would be a violation of that Article. When the tapping does not constitute a violation of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article, § 10-401 et seq., any person who is found guilty of tapping shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000 per occurrence, or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.