WHEREAS, the city of Duluth, Minnesota, (hereinafter the city) through its city council adopts this resolution to express its concern about the rulemaking of the federal communication commission (FCC) which threatens to adversely affect the ability of local governments to continue to franchise cable services; and

     WHEREAS, community control of cable services based on the guidelines of the Federal Cable Act has proven to be an effective, efficient model for developing and administering cable franchises, assuring that local interests and needs are met, addressing public safety and related concerns about the use of public rights-of-way, and handling customer service issues; and

     WHEREAS, the last cable franchise negotiated with the city’s cable service operator provided, in part, for payment of franchise fees equaling five percent of the service operator’s gross revenues; the provision of five public, educational and governmental access channels; the provision of equipment and financial support for public, educational and governmental programming; free cable service to certain public institutions; customer service requirements; picture quality and technical requirements; carrying of emergency alert messages; and insurance and bonding requirements; and

     WHEREAS, local cable franchising ensures that local cable operators are allowed access to the public rights-of-way in a fair and evenhanded manner, that other users of the rights of way are not unduly inconvenienced, and that uses of the rights-of-way, including maintenance and upgrade of facilities, are undertaken in a manner which is in accordance with local requirements; and

     WHEREAS, franchise fees paid to the city have become an important source of revenue and a fair way to offset the city costs for acquisition and maintenance of rights-of-way; and

     WHEREAS, the city has worked with cable service operators to offer service to all citizens within the franchise area without regard to location or income status; and

     WHEREAS, the city has never been approached by a competitive operator to provide cable service; and

     WHEREAS, the FCC rulemaking threatens to change the role of local governments in negotiating and granting franchise agreements with local cable operators that meet the unique needs and interests of communities and provide communities sources of revenue for utilization of public rights-of way; and

     WHEREAS, the city desires to express to the FCC the importance of retaining the current structure of local franchising authority which has proven itself to be an effective system for governing the utilization of public rights-of-way by private cable operators and which has spawned an important local communications tool.

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, as follows:

     (a)  That the city hereby opposes any FCC rulemaking that will reduce the right of local governments to approve and administer franchised cable services; to charge reasonable franchise fees for the use of the city’s rights-of-way; to require dedicated channels for public, educational and governmental purposes; to require funding, facilities and equipment for such channels; to require customer service standards, to require picture quality and technical standards; to require provision of free cable service to certain public institutions; to require carrying of emergency alert messages; and to require certain levels of bonding and insurance coverage;

     (b)  That the city therefore respectively requests that the FCC do nothing to interfere with local government authority over franchising or to otherwise impair the operation of the local franchising process as set forth under existing federal law with regard to either existing cable service providers or new entrants;

     (c)  That a certified copy of this resolution be delivered after its passage to the federal communications commission.

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE:  The purpose of this resolution is to express to express the city’s concern about the rulemaking of the federal communication commission (FCC) which threatens to adversely affect the ability of local governments to continue to franchise cable services.