LEGISLATIVE FACT SHEET
HB2069: municipal rental inspections; technical correction
S/E: cable television licensing
Sponsor: Nelson (R-12)
City of Tucson | Intergovernmental Relations | Director – C Mary Okoye
255 West Alameda | Tucson, AZ 85701 | 520.791.5200 O | 520.791.4555 F
A Strike-Everything amendment to HB 2069 is being proposed by the cable industry to be considered by the House of Representatives Counties, Municipalities and Military Affairs (CMMA) Committee on Tuesday, February 6, 2007 at 1:30 p.m.
The amendment proposes to require a municipality or a county that does not reach a new cable licensing agreement by July 1, 2007 (realistically only the City of Tucson), to renew the license under the existing license terms. The amendment would automatically adjust existing service obligations to those specified in Laws 2006, Chapter 2 (HB 2812: licensing procedures; cable television), in violation of the contracts clause of the Federal Constitution which prohibits a state from impairing the existing obligations of cable providers under holdover cable licenses. State common franchise law allows for a licensee to continue operating under the terms of the license/franchise agreement upon expiration until a new agreement is reached.
Additionally, the amendment would interfere with efforts by the City of Tucson to reach a cable license renewal agreement with the current provider. The amendment has the potential to affect only the City of Tucson, which would make this Special Legislation. The only two other jurisdictions that have not yet reached an agreement will do so prior to the proposed effective date of the amendment – which the cable service provider has admitted.
Cox Communications argues that this amendment is needed because the City of Tucson is attempting to delay negotiations and is not acting in good faith. This is not true. The City of Tucson set an aggressive timetable in order to complete the formal process by the June 30, 2007 deadline imposed by last year’s cable legislation.
Cox Communications, not the City of Tucson, insisted on a formal cable license renewal process, pursuant to federal law. This is potentially a very lengthy process that can take up to 3 years. Part of the formal process includes hiring consultants to assess the communities cable related needs and interests, retaining focus groups and a contracting with technical consultants to assess the Cox system.
It was the City of Tucson who encouraged a more streamlined informal process as do most jurisdictions and as is encouraged by the Federal Cable Act.
We have been negotiating with Cox on this aggressive schedule and believed that we were close to an agreement when Cox suddenly broke off negotiations.
The issue holding up negotiations is the digital divide issue - which the Mayor and Council asked staff to pursue because they want Public, Education and Government (PEG) channels to be available to all subscribers whether or not the subscribe to the more expensive digital service.