Cable Franchising

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Local governments have the legal right to require cable operators to enter into a franchise agreement that allows the operators to use the public rights-of-way.  Municipal officials manage those rights-of-way as a public trust and are entitled to certain benefits in return for the cable operators’ use of public property.  These includes significant financial and non-financial benefits from the cable operators.

A key financial benefit is that municipalities may require cable operators to pay up to five percent (5%) of their “gross revenues” in the form of franchise fees.  “Gross revenues” includes over 25 separate revenue sources.  CLG has developed a list of all eligible revenue sources and updates this list whenever a cable operator launches a new fee-based service.

Municipalities may also demand that cable operators build out their cable system to unserved areas, comply with customer service standards, provide cable service to municipal facilities, create channel space for a municipal access channel and agree to other benefits.  All of these benefits are open to negotiation.  Because cable operators are sophisticated and experienced, they are at an advantage against municipalities. 

The attorneys at the Cohen Law Group can level the playing field. They represent only local governments and do not represent any cable companies.  For over 24 years, they have represented local governments in cable franchise negotiations against every national cable operator as well as numerous regional operators.  They know the law regarding cable franchising and closely monitor changes in the cable industry and at the Federal Communications Commission. 

A cable franchise negotiation is the best time for your municipality to obtain benefits and legal protections.  If you have received a letter of intent from a cable operator to obtain a new cable franchise or to renew an existing cable franchise, your municipality must move quickly to negotiate a strong agreement.  Our attorneys are available to discuss cable franchising – please call or check our online schedule for a brief, no-obligation consultation.