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2016-2018 Community Needs Assessment and Comcast Renewal Process; 2019 Franchise Ordinance

2016-2018 Community Needs Assessment and Comcast Renewal Process; 2019 Franchise Ordinance.

Cable Franchise Agreement Renewal: Background

The 2002 Franchise Agreement for cable television services between the City of Albuquerque and Comcast of New Mexico, LLC expired in 2017.  Comcast of New Mexico notified the City in 2016 that it wished to seek renewal of its franchise and enter into an informal renewal process, per federal law, which involved -- among other tasks -- identifying the City's cable-related needs and evaluating Comcast's performance under the existing franchise ordinance.

Renewal Process: How the Community Got Involved

The City of Albuquerque’s renewal process entailed the identification of the City's Cable related needs and an evaluation of Comcast’s performance in rendering cable services.  The City’s work group sought and received input from key officials and managers in City and Bernalillo County government, the Albuquerque Public Schools, and community stakeholders.  The City also conducted an email survey of cable television subscribers.  The City was able to gain a more accurate picture of Comcast’s quality of service and the community’s cable-related needs through these efforts.

Focus Group Meetings Final Report & Survey Results

Download the Comcast Franchise Agreement Focus Group: Themes.

Download the Comcast Franchise Survey Report.

Comcast Franchise Ordinance: Summary

Through the community needs assessment, the City identified its objectives and negotiated for:

  1. Customer Service Standards and Billing Practices (R.O.A., §§13-5-3-4, -6, -7, and -8; and Exhibit B, Customer Service Standards) to impose some regulatory discipline in the absence of rate-making authority through Comcast’s agreement to provide:
    1. Quarterly reports of customer complaints on billing, customer service, installation, notices, programming, rates, and other matters;
    2. Detailed customer notices on services, rates, and subsequent changes;
    3. Annual schedule of rates and services for posting on City webpages;
    4. Interim customer satisfaction ascertainments; and
    5. Schedule of local office hours and telephone availability.
  2. PEG Channel Designation (R.O.A., §13-5-3-9) to maintain the number of PEG channels in use in 2017 and introduce high definition broadcasts, more specifically:
    1. Four standard definition channels with two high definition channels simulcast channels in first year; and a third HD channel after the second year;
    2. Broadband connection, services, and equipment for streaming and video on demand, including a one-time grant of $25,000.00 for these purposes; and
    3. Increase in PEG fee from $0.44 to $0.62 to fund PEG capital needs.
  3. I-Net Access to Comcast Backbone to maintain existing connections; affirm ownership of the local loop, the construction of which the City has paid for over the past fifteen years at considerable cost; and negotiate a fair price for access to Comcast’s backbone. (Exhibit C, Dark Fiber Agreement).
  4. Financial Controls and Interim Audits (R.O.A., §§13-5-3-2, -3 and -5) to ensure better monitoring of franchise fee payments and compliance with other financial requirements including:
    1. Updated definition of gross revenues;
    2. Annual audits and/or revenue reports with reconciliation data;
    3. Late and underpayment penalties; and
    4. Indemnification and insurance requirements.
  5. Technical Capacity, Cable Services, and Interim Assessment (R.O.A., §§13-5-3-10, -11, and -12) to ensure that Comcast’s technical specifications keep up with community growth and advances in technology.
    1. Provisions for joint trenching and City’s use of Comcast conduit;
    2. 870 MHz cable system and commensurate quality of service;
    3. Technology assessment midway through the 10-year term;
    4. Twelve hours of emergency operation;
    5. Non-discriminatory services and line extensions where needed; and
    6. Cable services (basic or digital starter) to City facilities.

Read the entire 2019 Comcast Franchise Ordinance.