Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 15.2. Counties, Cities and Towns
Chapter 21. Franchises; Sale and Lease of Certain Municipal Public Property; Public Utilities
9/15/2019

§ 15.2-2108.1:1. Franchise fees and public rights-of-way fees on cable operators.

A. As used in this section:

"Cable operator" means any person or group of persons that (i) provides cable service over a cable system and directly or through one or more affiliates owns a significant interest in such cable system or (ii) otherwise controls or is responsible for, through any arrangement, the management and operation of a cable system, whether or not the operator has entered into a franchise agreement with a locality. Cable operator does not include a provider of wireless or direct-to-home satellite transmission service.

"Cable service" means the one-way transmission to subscribers of (i) video programming as defined in 47 U.S.C. § 522 (20) or (ii) other programming service, and subscriber interaction, if any, which is required for the selection of such video programming or other programming service. Cable service does not include any video programming provided by a commercial mobile service provider as defined in 47 U.S.C. § 332 (d) and any direct-to-home satellite service as defined in 47 U.S.C. § 303 (v).

"Cable system" or "cable television system" means any facility consisting of a set of closed transmission paths and associated signal generation, reception, and control equipment that is designed to provide cable service that includes video programming and that is provided to multiple subscribers within a community, except that such definition shall not include (i) a system that serves fewer than 20 subscribers; (ii) a facility that serves only to retransmit the television signals of one or more television broadcast stations; (iii) a facility that serves only subscribers without using any public right-of-way; (iv) a facility of a common carrier that is subject, in whole or in part, to the provisions of Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, 47 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., except that such facility shall be considered a cable system to the extent such facility is used in the transmission of video programming directly to subscribers, unless the extent of such use is solely to provide interactive on-demand services; (v) any facilities of any electric utility used solely for operating its electric systems; (vi) any portion of a system that serves fewer than 50 subscribers in any locality, where such portion is a part of a larger system franchised in an adjacent locality; or (vii) an open video system that complies with § 653 of Title VI of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. § 573.

"Franchise" means an initial authorization, or renewal thereof, issued by a franchising authority, including a locality or the Commonwealth Transportation Board, whether such authorization is designated as a franchise, permit, license, resolution, contract, certificate, agreement, or otherwise, that authorizes the construction or operation of a cable system, a telecommunications system, or other facility in the public rights-of-way, including either a negotiated cable franchise or an ordinance cable franchise.

B. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if a cable operator uses the public rights-of-way the cable operator shall be subject to the Public Rights-of-Way Use Fee as provided in § 56-468.1. Any limitation as to fees charged for the use of the public rights-of-way shall not be applicable to pole attachments and conduit occupancy agreements between a cable operator and a locality or its authority or commission, which permits such operator to use the public poles or conduits.

C. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no new or renewed cable franchise entered into on or after January 1, 2007, shall include a franchise fee as long as cable services are subject to the Virginia Communications Sales and Use Tax (§ 58.1-645 et seq.). Franchise fee as used in this subsection shall have the same meaning as that term is defined in 47 U.S.C. § 542 (g).

1. All cable franchises in effect as of January 1, 2007, shall remain in full force and effect, and nothing in this section shall impair any obligation of any such agreement; provided, however, that any requirement in such an existing franchise for payment of a monetary franchise fee based on the gross revenues of the franchisee shall be fulfilled in the manner specified in subdivision 2.

2. Each cable operator owing monetary payments for franchise fees, until the expiration of one or more such existing franchises, shall include with its monthly remittance of the Communications Sales and Use Tax a report, by locality, of the amounts due for franchise fees accruing during that month. The Department of Taxation shall, on behalf of the cable operator in the relevant locality, then distribute to each county, city, or town the amount reported by each locality's franchisee(s). Such payments shall reduce the cable operator's franchise fee liability. The monthly distributions shall be paid from the Communications Sales and Use Tax Trust Fund before making the other calculations and distributions required by § 58.1-662. Until distributed to the individual localities, such amounts shall be deemed to be held in trust for their respective accounts.

3. A locality's acceptance of any payment under subdivision 2 shall not prejudice any rights of the locality under the applicable cable franchises (i) to audit or demand adjustment of the amounts reported by its franchisee, or (ii) to enforce the provisions of the franchise by any lawful administrative or judicial means.

2006, c. 780.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.