New York Consolidated Laws, Public Service Law - PBS § 215. Duties of the commission in respect to cable television companies

The commission shall:

1. Develop and maintain a statewide plan for development of cable television services, setting forth the objectives which the commission deems to be of regional and state concern;

2. To the extent permitted by, and not contrary to applicable federal law and rules and regulations:

(a) prescribe standards for procedures and practices which municipalities shall follow in granting franchises, which standards shall provide for (i) the issuance of a public invitation to compete for the franchise;  (ii) the filing of all franchise applications and related documents as public records, with reasonable notice to the public that such records are open to inspection and examination during reasonable business hours;  (iii) the holding of a public hearing, upon reasonable notice to the public and the commission, at which the applicants and their proposals shall be examined and members of the public and interested parties are afforded a reasonable opportunity to express their views thereon;  (iv) the rendition of a written report by the municipality, made available to the public, setting forth the reasons for its decision in awarding the franchise;  and (v) such other procedural standards as the commission may deem necessary or appropriate to assure maximum public participation and competition and to protect the public interest;

(b) prescribe minimum standards for inclusion in franchises, including maximum initial and renewal terms;  minimum channel capacity;  provisions regarding access to, and facilities to make use of, channels for education and public service programs;  a requirement that no such franchise may be exclusive;  standards necessary or appropriate to protect the interests of viewers of free broadcast television and the public generally, which prohibit or limit cable television companies from prohibiting or entering into agreements prohibiting the sale or other transfer of rights for the simultaneous or subsequent transmission over free broadcast television of any program originated or transmitted over cable television;  and such other standards for inclusion in franchises as the commission shall deem necessary or appropriate to protect the public interest;

(c) prescribe standards by which the franchising authority shall determine whether an applicant possesses (i) the technical ability, (ii) the financial ability, (iii) the good character, and (iv) other qualifications necessary to operate a cable television system in the public interest;

(d) prescribe standards for the construction and operation of cable television systems, which standards shall be designed to promote (i) safe, adequate and reliable service to subscribers, (ii) the construction and operation of systems consistent with most advanced state of the art, (iii) a construction schedule providing for maximum penetration as rapidly as possible within the limitations of economic feasibility, (iv) the construction of systems with the maximum practicable channel capacity, facilities for local program origination, facilities to provide service in areas conforming to various community interests, facilities with the technical capacity for interconnection with other systems within regions as established in the commission's statewide plan and facilities capable of transmitting signals from subscribers to the cable television company or to other points;  and (v) the prompt handling of inquiries, complaints and requests for repairs;

3. Provide advice and technical assistance to municipalities and community organizations in matters relating to cable television franchises and services;

4. Establish minimum specifications for equipment, service and safety of cable television systems for use by municipalities;

5. Review and act upon applications for certificates of confirmation in accordance with such standards as hereinafter provided;

6. Represent the interests of the people of the state before the federal communications commission and other appropriate federal agencies and make available information on communications developments at the federal level;

7. Stimulate and encourage cooperative arrangements among organizations, institutions and municipalities in the development of regional, educational, instructional and public affairs programming services;

8. Cooperate with municipalities to facilitate undertaking of multiple community cable television systems;

9. Encourage the creation of public and community groups, to organize, seek chartering when appropriate, and request franchising for the establishment of public, nonprofit and not-for-profit cable television operations;

10. Maintain liaison with the communications industry and parties both public and private, having an interest therein, other states and agencies of this state to promote the rapid harmonious development of cable television services as set forth in the legislative findings and intent;

11. Undertake such studies as may be necessary to meet the responsibilities and objectives of this article;

12. Implement the provisions of this article in a manner which is cognizant of the differing financial and administrative capabilities of companies of different sizes;

13. Encourage and cooperate with other state agencies that collect information from cable television companies serving fewer than one thousand subscribers to eliminate duplicative reporting requirements.


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