Home Rule Chapter 600 - Cable

WHEREAS, ORC 504.04(A) authorizes the Township to exercise powers of local self-government and to adopt and enforce within the Township local police, sanitary, and other similar regulations;

WHEREAS, ORC 504.05 authorizes the Plain Township Board of Trustees to impose a civil fine up to $1,000 for a violation of a resolution adopted under ORC 504 which can be graduated based on previous violations;

WHEREAS, the Federal Communications Commission in its proceeding captioned: In the Matter of Implementation of Section 17 of the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992, ET Docket #93-7, Compatibility Between Cable Systems and Consumer Electronics Equipment, by action released May 4, 1994, generally prohibits scrambling of signals carried on the basic tier as being appropriate as a means to promote compatibility between cable service and consumer electronics equipment; and

WHEREAS, in the same proceeding, the FCC state the following: "Although we are not adopting CFA/HRCC's suggestion that cable operators not be allowed to scramble any signals carried on regulated tiers that were not scrambled prior to the enactment of the 1992 Cable Act, we agree with CFA/HRCC's position that it seems reasonable to presume that if a signal carried on a regulated tier was not scrambled before the 1992 Cable Act, there is no need to scramble the signal now or in the future. Moreover, as observed by Pacific Bell and John Fitzgerald, the routine scrambling of these signals also causes significant compatibility problems for subscribers by necessitating the use of set-top descramblers. However, we believe an expanded record of this issue will better aid us in our deliberations. Therefore, we intend to include consideration of this issue in the upcoming Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making that will address the Decoder Interface standard and related issues."

WHEREAS, the FCC adopted Customer Service Obligations set forth in Title 47 CFR, Part 76, Section 76.309 et.seq. which provide that local franchising authorities may adopt consumer protection laws and other regulations not consistent with or preempted by FCC rules; and

WHEREAS, this Board finds that the originally proposed unilateral decision to scramble the cable programming service tier in Plain Township, Stark County, Ohio by the local cable operator, if implemented would constitute a detriment to the citizens of Plain Township, Stark County, Ohio by virtue of causing significant compatibility problems and expense for subscribers by necessitating use of set-top descramblers.

WHEREAS, this Board finds that the use of set-top descramblers would cause significant compatibility problems which include but are not limited to incompatibility with cable ready television, televisions containing "picture in-a-picture" features and with VCR taping of cable channels; and

WHEREAS, this Board finds that the use of set-top descramblers, in particular where one descrambler is required for each television and in many instances each VCR within a customer's residence, substantially increases the customer's cost of watching cable television, which defeats the rate reductions mandated by the FCC pursuant to the 1992 Cable Act; and

WHEREAS, the cable subscribers within Plain Township have expressed their extreme opposition to the proposed unilateral imposition of scrambling of the cable programming service tier and the requirement of set-top descramblers to access the cable programming service tier;

WHEREAS, although the local cable operator has announced its voluntary decision not to proceed with scrambling of the cable programming service tier and the requirement of a set-top descrambler, this Board deems it necessary and desirable to establish local regulations concerning this issue; and

WHEREAS, this Board finds that the standards adopted in this ordinance affect the manner in which a cable operator delivers cable television programming services and thus constitutes a permissible area of regulation within the Customer Service obligations; and

WHEREAS, consumer protection will be enhanced by the Township's adoption of the FCC Customer service Obligations and the additional standards set forth herein to the betterment of health, safety, and welfare of residents of Plain Township, Stark County; and

WHEREAS, there is a public need for the Plain Township Board of Trustees to enact the following legislation to regulate Cable Television Customer Service provided by cable operators within Plain Township, Stark County, Ohio;

NOW, THEREFORE, be it hereby resolved, by the Plain Township Board of Trustees, Stark County, Ohio pursuant to Chapter 504 of the Ohio Revised Code and within the authority of Limited-Self Government, that we hereby adopt the following Cable Television Customer Service Standards legislation and fines for violation thereof, to take affect and be enforced from and after the earliest period allowed by law.

Section 601 - Adoption of Customer Service Obligations

The Board hereby adopts the Customer Server Obligations promulgated b the Federal Communication Commission, set forth in Title 47, CFR, Part 76, Section 76.309, et seq. and any amendments thereto.

Section 602 - Additional Customer Service Standards:  Prohibition of Scrambling Any Regulated Tier Until Authorized by Federal Law

Pursuant to the authority provided by Section 76.309 (b) (3) and (4) of Title 47 CFR, part 76, the Board hereby adopts the following Customer Service Standard:

Cable operators may not scramble signals of any regulated tier unless and to the extent explicitly authorized by the Federal law or regulation.

Section 603 - Additional Customer Service Standards:  Options to be Provided to Customers

  1. In the event that federal law or regulation is adopted which explicitly authorizes the scrambling of signals of any regulated tier, to the extent not otherwise explicitly approved by federal law or regulation, cable operators choosing to scramble any regulated tier service must offer subscribers the following:
    1. An economically viable option of having installed a single "whole house" descrambling device (the "Alternative Terminal") such that:
      1. The single device will descramble all regulated channels simultaneously and serve all cable outlets on the subscriber's premises permitting subscribers to view through each cable outlet different descrambled regulated channels simultaneously; and;
      2. The Alternative Terminal will not interfere with the subscriber's ability to use his/her own equipment, including cable-ready TV's and associated remote control units, picture-in-picture features, and play-and-record VCR's; and
      3. The cable operator shall educate subscribers regarding the choices available.
  2. Nothing in this chapter will preclude cable operators meeting these requirements to the extent otherwise permitted the rules of the FCC from:
    1. Offering other devices including devices that do not meet the requirements set forth above, for the marketing of additional premium channels and other interactive cable services but for which the consumer elects such device or devices and/or;
    2. Charging subscribers for the Alternative Terminal and for services a are reasonable required to install the Alternative Terminal in accordance with the standards established by the FCC.

Section 604 - Violations and Civil Fines

  1. It shall be deemed a violation of Section 601 for a cable operator to violate any of the customer service obligations promulgated by the FCC or any amendments thereto.
  2. It shall be deemed a violation of Section 602 for a cable operator to scramble any regulated service tier unless explicitly authorized by federal law or regulation.
  3. It shall be deemed a violation of Section 603 for a cable operator to scramble any regulated service tier under any of the following circumstances.
    1. Scramble any regulated tier while failing to offer subscribers of a choice of an alternative terminal or;
    2. Evade or avoid the requirements Plain Township Limited Self-Government Resolution Chapter 600 by pricing the Alternative Terminal in a manner not in accordance with FCC regulation or imposing extra ordinary procedures on subscribers wishing to choose the Alternative Terminal otherwise;
  4. Any violation of Plain Township Limited Self-Government Resolution Chapter 600 shall be subject to civil fines equal to $10.00 per affected subscriber per violation per month. Each month or part there of shall constitute a separate violation.

Section 605 - Severability

If any provision of the application of this Plain Township Limited Self-Government Resolution is held by court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such invalidity shall not effect the other provisions or applications of this resolution which can be given effect without the utilization of the invalid provision or application, and to this end, the provisions of this resolution age hereby declared to be independent and severable.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this resolution be duly recorded and authenticated by the signature of the Township Clerk and the Plain Township Board of Trustees shall hereby advise the Clerk to publish same in newspaper of general circulation within the Township according to the requirements of ORC504.11 and 504.12.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that notice be sent to the cable operators of Plain Township's intent to enforce this resolution.