Publication Date: June 2006
Publisher: Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service
Research Area: Media, telecommunications, and information
On June 8, 2006, the House of Representative passed H.R. 5252, the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement (COPE) Act of 2006. Title I of the COPE Act amends Title VI of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 541 et seq.) to create a process for granting a national franchise that would give a cable operator the authority to provide cable service in a franchise area. The purpose of this legislation is to foster competitive entry into the cable television market by creating a streamlined franchising process that new entrants could employ as an alternative to the current process of negotiating for franchise authority with potentially thousands of local jurisdictions. Further, once competitive entry has occurred in a franchise area, an incumbent cable company serving that area would be able to seek a national franchise. Under the bill, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is instructed to issue a number of national rules and is given certain enforcement and appeals responsibilities. Local franchise authorities retain authority over management of rights-of-way and some other requirements.
Major provisions in Title I of H.R. 5252 cover the eligibility requirements and certification process for a national franchise; requirements for identifying the boundaries of franchise areas; the national franchise renewal and revocation process; franchise fees; revenue definitions; public, educational, and governmental use (PEG) requirements; PEG and institutional network financial support requirements; rightsof-way authority and management; national consumer protection and customer service standards; the consumer protection and customer service complaints process; antidiscrimination (redlining) requirements; child pornography protections; the reporting, records, and audits processes; fee dispute resolution; definition changes in the Communications Act; and FCC monitoring and reporting requirements.
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