[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee (now Township Council) of the Township of West Windsor 9-9-2002 by Ord. No. 2002-17. This chapter also superseded former Ch. 59, Cable Television Franchise, adopted 12-2-1991 by Ord. No. 91-30 (Ch. XXV of the Revised General Ordinances). Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Township hereby grants to Comcast Cablevision of Central New Jersey. Inc., renewal of its nonexclusive municipal consent to place in, upon, across, above, over and under highways, streets, alleys, sidewalks, easements, public ways and public places in the Township poles, wires, cables, underground conduits, manholes and other television conductors, fixtures, apparatus and equipment as may be necessary for the construction, operation and maintenance in the Township of a cable television system.
For the purpose of this chapter, the following terms, phrases, words and their derivations shall have the meaning given herein. Such meaning or definition of terms is supplemental to those definitions of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules and regulations, 47 C.F.R. Subsection 76.1 et seq., and the Cable Communications Policy Act, 47 U.S.C. Section 521 et seq., as amended, and the Cable Television Act, N.J.S.A. 48:5A-l et seq., and shall in no way be construed to broaden, alter or conflict with the federal and state definitions:
- ACT or CABLE TELEVISION ACT
- Chapter 186 of the General Laws of New Jersey, and subsequent amendments thereto, N.J.S.A. 48:5A-1 et seq.
- BASIC SERVICE
- Any service tier which includes the retransmission of local television broadcast signals as defined by the FCC.
- BOARD or BPU
- The Board of Public Utilities, State of New Jersey.
- The grantee of rights under this chapter and is known as "Comcast Cablevision of Central New Jersey, Inc."
- The Federal Communications Commission.
- MUNICIPALITY or TOWNSHIP
- The Township of West Windsor, County of Mercer, State of New Jersey.
- OFFICE or OCTV
- The Office of Cable Television of the Board.
- Refers to public, educational or governmental access channels.
Public hearings conducted by the Township concerning the renewal of municipal consent herein granted to the company were held after proper public notice pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Act and the regulations of the Board adopted pursuant thereto. Said hearings, having been fully open to the public, and the Township, having received at said public hearings all comments regarding the qualifications of the company to receive this renewal of municipal consent, the Township hereby finds that the company possesses the necessary legal, technical, character, financial and other qualifications and that the company's operating and construction arrangements are adequate and feasible. While the municipality has received some complaints alleging insufficient quality of service, the municipality nevertheless believes it is in the public interest to renew the company's municipal consent.
The nonexclusive municipal consent granted herein shall expire 10 years from the date of expiration of the previous certificate of approval issued by the Board; however, said Consent shall expire 15 years from the date of expiration of the previous certificate of approval if the company meets its obligations set forth in §§ 59-15A, B and C and 59-16A, B, C, D and E of this chapter. Any dispute between the company and the municipality about whether the company has met its above-referenced obligations shall be resolved in accordance with the rules promulgated by the Board of Public Utilities.
The municipality shall undertake a formal review of the company's performance during the fourth, eighth, and, if applicable, twelfth years of the franchise, as measured from the date of expiration of the prior franchise. Six months prior to the start of each review period, the company shall notify the municipality of its obligation to undertake such a review. During any review period, the municipality may request the company to provide the municipality with its own review of its compliance with the Ordinance. Nothing herein shall preclude the municipality from initiating a formal review of the company's performance at any time during the franchise period, nor preclude the municipality from petitioning the Office of Cable Television for any relief as allowed by law.
Pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Act, the company shall, during each year of operation under the consent granted herein, pay to the Township 2% of the gross revenues from all recurring charges in the nature of subscription fees paid by subscribers for cable television reception service in the Township or any higher amount permitted by the Act or otherwise allowable by law, whichever is greater. The company shall, on or before the 25th day of January each year, or such other date as may be designated by regulation of the Board of Public Utilities, file with the chief fiscal officer of the Township a statement verifying the company's gross revenues from all recurring charges in the nature of subscription fees paid by subscribers for cable television reception service in the Township.
The consent granted under this chapter to the renewal of the franchise shall apply to the entirety of the Township and any property subsequently annexed thereto.
The company shall be required to proffer service along any public right-of-way to any person's residence or business located in all areas of the franchise territory as described herein, at tariffed rates for standard and nonstandard installations.
The company commits itself to keeping pace with the state-of-the-art technology of the cable industry for systems of comparable size and to maintain the highest degree of product availability, signal integrity and system reliability.
In or about 1997, the company completed an upgrade of the cable television distribution system serving the Township. The upgraded system is a hybrid fiber optic/coaxial cable system following a fiber to the node architecture.
Restoration. In the event that the company or its agents shall disturb any pavement, street surfaces, sidewalks, driveways, or other surface in the natural topography, the company shall, at its sole expense, restore and replace such places or things so disturbed in as good a condition as existed prior to the commencement of said work. Any restoration shall commence as expeditiously as practical, but in no event more than 10 days after a notice of violation issued by the municipality.
Relocation. If at any time during the period of this consent the municipality shall alter or change the grade of any street, alley or other way or place, the company, upon reasonable notice by the municipality, shall remove, relay or relocate its equipment, at the expense of the company.
Temporary removal of cables. The company shall, upon request of the municipality at the company's expense, temporarily raise, lower, or remove its lines in order to facilitate the moving of buildings or machinery or in other like circumstances. Whenever the request is made by, for, or on behalf of private parties, the cost will be borne by those same parties. Private parties will be provided a free cost estimate prior to the commencement of work.
Removal or trimming of trees. During the exercise of its rights and privileges under this franchise, the company shall have the authority to trim trees upon and overhanging streets, alleys, sidewalks or other public places of the municipality so as to prevent the branches of such trees from coming in contact with the wires and cable of the company. Such trimming shall be only to the extent necessary to maintain proper clearance of the company's wire and cables and shall be in accordance with the Township's Shade Tree Master Plan.
Temporary hookups. Absent good cause shown, the company shall not maintain and place any temporary installations for a period that exceeds 30 days. The company shall notify customers with temporary installations about this thirty-day requirement.
Local ordinances. The company shall be subject to full and detailed compliance with the Township Zoning Ordinance, Land Subdivision Ordinance, Site Plan Ordinance and Provisions Applicable to Site Plan and Subdivision Ordinance; all other Township ordinances and resolutions; and all rules, regulations and laws of all applicable jurisdictions.
In providing services to its customers, the company shall comply with N.J.A.C. 14:18-1 et seq. and all applicable state and federal statutes and regulations. The company shall strive to meet or exceed all voluntary company and industry standards in the delivery of customer service.
The company shall continue to comply fully with all applicable state and federal statutes and regulations regarding credits for outages, the reporting of same to regulatory agencies and notification of same to customers.
The company shall continue to fully comply with all applicable state and federal statutes and regulations regarding the availability of devices for the hearing impaired and the notification of same to customers.
The company shall strive to meet or exceed voluntary standards for telephone accessibility developed by the National Cable Telecommunications Association (NCTA), as noted below. Those standards include, but are not limited to, the goal of answering 90% of incoming telephone calls within 30 seconds.
Telephones will be covered 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Inquiries received after normal business hours must be responded to by a trained company representative on the next business day.
Under normal operating conditions, telephone answer time, including wait time and the time required to transfer the call, shall not exceed 30 seconds.
Under normal operating conditions, callers will receive a busy signal less than three percent of the time.
Customer service centers and bill payment locations will be open during normal business hours and will be conveniently located.
The company shall provide the municipality with the quarterly reports regarding customer service that it is required to provide to the BPU.
Comcast shall provide the municipality with a procedure for contacting a technician or manager in the event of an emergency involving the operation of a PEG channel.
Nothing herein shall impair the right of any subscriber or the municipality to express any comment with respect to telephone accessibility to the complaint officer or impair the right of the complaint officer to take any action that is appropriate under law.
The company is permitted, but is not required, to charge a late fee consistent with applicable state and federal statutes and regulations.
The Office of Cable Television is hereby designated as the complaint officer for the municipality pursuant to N.J.S.A. 48:5A-26b. All complaints shall be received and processed in accordance with N.J.A.C. 14:17-6.5. The municipality shall have the right to request copies of records and reports pertaining to complaints by Township customers from the OCTV.
During the term of this franchise, and any renewal thereof, the company shall maintain a local business office or agent for the purpose of receiving, investigating and resolving all complaints regarding the quality of service, equipment malfunctions and similar matters. Such local business office shall be open during normal business hours and in no event less than 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Telephone response for such purposes as mentioned herein will be provided by the company's employees, representatives or agents 24 hours per day.
The telephone number and address of the local office shall be listed in applicable telephone directories and in correspondence from the company to the customer. The telephone number for the local office shall utilize an exchange that is a non-toll call for Township residents.
During the life of the franchise, the company shall give to the municipality a bond in the amount of $25,000. Such bond shall be to insure the faithful performance of all undertakings of the company as represented in its application for municipal consent incorporated herein. It is understood by the parties that this bond money is subject to forfeiture following notice to Comcast of any material default and failure to cure such default within a reasonable time period.
The amount of the performance bond shall be increased if state laws or regulations are amended to require a higher minimum bond, in which event the company's performance bond shall be in an amount that is not less than the state minimum, or the company undertakes major construction or a rebuild of its system, in which case the amount of the performance bond shall be renegotiated.
The rates of the company shall be subject to regulations as permitted by federal and state law.
Dedicated governmental access channel. By September 1, 2003, the company shall provide the municipality with a dedicated governmental access channel for the use by the municipality and its designees for the purpose of cablecasting noncommercial access programming.
Dedicated fiber return. By September 1, 2003, the company will construct and maintain at its own expense a dedicated fiber return line from the Township's Municipal Building to the company's headend, and a return line from another site of the municipality's choosing to the company's headend. The company shall install and maintain at a location of the municipality's choosing a video-sensitive switch allowing the municipality to automatically switch between the two sites.
Installation of equipment necessary for transmission of access programming. By September 1, 2003, the company shall, at its own expense, purchase and install the equipment and wiring necessary for the transmission of access programming (excluding access equipment) at the Municipal Building, the West Windsor-Plainsboro School District, and at its headend. Installation shall be at locations within those facilities to be determined by the municipality, provided that such installation is technically feasible and economically practical.
Signal quality. The company shall take any steps that are necessary to ensure that the signals originated on the access channel are carried without material degradation and with a signal whose quality is equal to that of the other channels that the company transmits. Any emergency involving operation of a PEG channel shall be handled in accordance with § 59-10E of this chapter.
Dedicated channel for MCCC. The company will continue to provide cable TV channel number 23 for exclusive use as a Mercer County Community College cable TV network channel, to be operated and programmed by the College, and provide equipment necessary to provide and operate a two-way link by cable or microwave to Mercer County Community College and equipment necessary to convert baseband video to television (R. F.) in order for the college to distribute the signal to other municipalities interconnected with the Network, as well as equipment to accept a television signal from each municipality. All equipment shall meet or exceed NTSC RS 170 specifications.
Seventy-five thousand dollars technology grant. Within six months of the issuance of a certificate of approval by the Board of Public Utilities, the company will provide to the municipality a one-time grant of $75,000 to support technology initiatives, including but not limited to the existing television studio at the West Windsor-Plainsboro High School - South.
Twenty thousand dollars to underwrite upgrade of Municipal Council chambers to allow broadcast quality audio and video. Within six months of the issuance of a certificate of approval by the Board of Public Utilities, the company will underwrite the installation of TV taping and editing equipment in the Municipal Building and the upgrade of the video sound system in the Council chambers, up to a total of $20,000.
Company shall provide character generator. Within six months of the issuance of a certificate of approval by the Board of Public Utilities, the company shall purchase a character generator for the municipality or provide the cash equivalent.
Continuing obligation to tape and broadcast municipal events. The company will continue to underwrite its cablecast of Township Council meetings, municipal candidates and school board candidates debates and other special events with adequate notice until a municipal TV station is operational, but for not longer than 18 months from the issuance of the certificate of approval.
Company to wire all West Windsor-Plainsboro schools to the classroom. Beginning in February 2003, the company shall provide installation of one free cable outlet, plus free monthly preferred basic service, to every instructional space in each school in the West Windsor-Plainsboro School District. This obligation extends to existing schools and new schools that are built during the term of the franchise. The installation must be completed no later than December 31, 2003, for all then-existing schools. Existing schools that are not yet wired to the instructional space shall be wired in the following sequence: High School South, Community Middle School, Maurice Hawk School, Dutch Neck School, Wykoff School. New schools shall be wired within 30 days of the Certificate of Occupancy. The December 31, 2003, deadline may only be waived by the municipality in the event the company is denied access to a school, and in that event the company must immediately notify the municipality and the school board and the deadline shall be extended for that period of time in which the company was denied access.
Free basic service to all municipal buildings and agencies. The company shall continue to provide free preferred basic service to one drop in the Municipal Building and each fire department, first aid squad, library, community or senior center, the water plant, and public works building that is located in or may be constructed within the Township, provided the facility is located within 200 feet of an active cable distribution plant. This obligation shall apply to any new facilities that are constructed during this municipal consent. Installation shall be completed within 30 days of the certificate of occupancy. The municipality shall notify the company of any new construction requiring a free drop.
Free internet service to schools and library. The company shall provide free basic Internet service, via high-speed cable modem, to one nonnetworked personal computer in each school and public library in the Township, provided the facility is located within 200 feet of an active cable distribution plant.
Categories of programming. Although nothing herein shall require the company to transmit any particular television channel or programming service, the company shall provide news, sports, entertainment, children's and foreign language programming, and will make every commercially reasonable effort to include Asian and Pacific Rim programming.
Annual reporting or service. Company representatives shall appear at least once annually, upon reasonable written request of the municipality, at a public hearing of the governing body or its designees to discuss matters pertaining to the provision of cable service to residents of the municipality and other related issues as the municipality and company may see fit.
Proof of performance. The company shall, upon request, provide the municipality with copies of its semiannual proof-of-performance tests conducted in accordance with Part 76 Subpart K of Title 47 C.F.R. § 76.601(c) and maintained in accordance with N.J.A.C. 14:18-9.2(c). The company shall also, upon request, provide the municipality with the statement indicating the extent to which the system complies with the applicable standards, maintained in accordance with N.J.A.C. 14:18-9.2(c).
The company shall be required to fully comply with all applicable federal and state statutes, rules and regulations governing the implementation, operation and testing of the Emergency Alert System (EAS).
The company shall in no way be held liable for any damage or injury suffered by the municipality or any other person, during an emergency, if for any reason the municipality is unable to make full use of the cable television system as contemplated herein.
The company shall at all times maintain a comprehensive general liability insurance policy with a single limit amount of $1,000 covering liability for any death, personal injury, property damages or other liability arising out of its construction and operation of the cable television system, and an excess liability (or umbrella) policy in the amount of $3,000,000. The company shall indemnify, protect and hold the Township harmless at all times from and against all claims for injury and damage to persons or property, both real and personal, including payments made under Workmen's Compensation Law, arising out of the construction, erection, operation, repair, installation, replacement and maintenance of its CATV system or of any structure, equipment or appliance or product used pursuant to the provisions of the Act or this municipal consent or by any other act or omission of the company, its agents or employees. The company shall also provide evidence by certificate of insurance or otherwise of sufficient insurance insuring the Township and the company with respect to all liability for any death, personal injury, property damage or other liability arising out of the company's construction and operation of its CATV system in the amounts set forth in the application as incorporated herein.
All of the commitments and statements contained in the application and any amendment thereto submitted in writing to the municipality by the company, except as modified herein, are binding upon the company as terms and conditions of this municipal consent. The application and any other relevant writings submitted by the company shall be considered a part of this chapter and made a part hereof by reference as long as it does not conflict with state or federal law. All other agreements between the Township and the company that are in conflict with the provisions of this agreement are hereby declared invalid and superseded.