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Cable Television (CATV) Franchise Agreements

This page contains information about cable television (CATV) franchise agreements for local governments in Washington State, including information on public access television (PEG channels), examples of cable franchise agreements, links to federal regulations, and other resources.

It is part of MRSC's series on Telecommunications.



Federal Regulations

Cable television franchise agreements are governed by federal law rather than state law and are negotiated with the cable company. Cable TV franchise fees may be levied at a rate up to 5% of gross revenues from the franchise area every year (47 U.S.C. §542(a) and (b)).

New FCC order: On August 2, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed a new order that will restrict local government cable franchise fees and agreements. In particular, the order:

  • Requires local governments to count most non-monetary "in-kind" contributions toward the maximum 5% franchise fee.
  • Preempts and prohibits local governments from regulating most non-cable services, such as broadband Internet, that are offered over cable systems.

The ruling was published in the Federal Register on August 27 and takes effect September 26, 2019, although appeals and further litigation are expected.

For full details, see the FCC website: FCC Enforces Franchising Laws to Promote Broadband Deployment.


Public Access Television ("PEG" Channels)

Local governments authorizing cable television franchises may require cable operators to set aside channels for public, educational, or governmental (PEG) use. The channels are as follows:

  • Public access channels are available for use by the general public. They are usually administered either by the cable operator or by a third party designated by the franchising authority.
  • Educational access channels are used by educational institutions for educational programming. Time on these channels is typically allocated by either the franchising authority or the cable operator among local schools, colleges, and universities.
  • Governmental access channels are used for programming by local government bodies.

PEG channels are not mandated by federal law; rather, they are a right given to the franchising authority, which it may choose to exercise. If the franchise authority does require PEG channels, that requirement will be set out in the franchise agreement between the franchising authority and the cable operator.

In accordance with applicable franchise agreements, local franchising authorities or cable operators may adopt on their own, non-content-based rules governing the use of PEG channels.  For example, rules may be adopted for allocating time among competing applicants on a reasonable basis, minimum production standards may be required, or users may be required to undergo training.

Examples


Examples of Cable Franchise Agreements

Below are examples of local government cable TV franchise agreements in Washington. However, be advised that these franchises may not be in compliance with the 2019 FCC order described above. We will be adding new examples as they become available.

Master Cable Franchise Ordinances

Agreements with Comcast

Agreements with Other Cable Providers

Requests for Proposals


Recommended Resources


Last Modified: April 26, 2022