Since the invention indoor entertainment such as cable televisions in 1948, cable programs have flooded the airways of the world. To regulate the cable industry, states have implemented regulatory and franchising laws concerning this business. In Florida, the senate has enacted statutes intended to regulate indoor entertainment business or cable service provider franchise issued by the government. These laws incorporated requisites, process of granting franchise, and cable services for public utilities.
Authority to Issue Franchise
Under Florida Laws, only the Department of State has the authority to issue franchise for the provision of cable television. A municipality or county is prohibited by law to grant franchise for provision of cable television service within its territorial jurisdiction.
Procedure in Applying for a Government Issued Franchise
An application for cable television franchise should be filed to the Department of State attaching therewith the requirements as provided under Title XXXVI Chapter 610 Section 104 of Florida statutes. The requisites enumerated in the above stated provision are only applicable if the applicant seeks to apply for a franchise after July 1, 2007. Within 10 business days after receipt of the application, the state department shall issue a notice of compliance or rejection to the applicant. If the application is rejected, the state department shall state the reason for the rejection in the said notice. Within the 15th business day after the receipt of the application, the state department shall issue the certificate of franchise. Under the law, an incumbent cable service provider in Florida is automatically eligible to apply for a state-issued franchise. The Department of State is prohibited to impose taxes, fees or charges on cable service providers as a condition precedent for the issuance of the state franchise.
Public, Education and Government Channels
Within 180 days after the issuance of the certificate of franchise, the cable service provider is obliged to allocate a sufficient amount of airway for public, educational and governmental channels. Under the law, a public, educational or governmental channel is categorized as such if the same airs public, educational or governmental programming within the municipality for 10 consecutive hours without any duplicity in the programs aired therein. To determine which public, educational or governmental channel will have access to cable programming, a poll or a survey will be conducted within the municipality of county where the certificate holder operates. To effectively enforce this provision, the law expressly provided for the exclusive jurisdiction to the courts to try and decide cases in violation of this provision.
Cable for Public Utilities
Public utilities such as K-2 public schools, public libraries or local government administrative buildings could receive one active basic cable service outlet. This is only available on request to the Department of State. In order for these public utilities to gain cable service access, the utility should be within 200 feet of the certificate holder’s distribution plant. The government entity shall shoulder the expenses for the installation of the cable service. However, the cable service connection provided in this provision cannot be used for commercial purposes and in areas for public viewing.
1. The Florida Senate: Statutes
2. Online Sunshine, Official Internet Site of the Florida Legislature: 2010 Florida Statutes