Vermont Public Service Board

8.450 - 8.460 Facilities and Funding, and Waivers and Ruling

8.450 Facilities and Funding. Any cable television certificate granted, renewed, or amended after the effective date of this section may include additional provisions concerning the designation and use of public, educational, and governmental access facilities as follows:

8.451 Facilities. A provision in the certificate specifying facilities and equipment to be made available by the system for use in connection with the designated PEG channels.

(A) Unless otherwise ordered by the Board because of an extremely small number of subscribers, minimum facilities that would be required of all operators once their systems are in operation will include:

  1. the channel capacity required by section 8.410;
  2. one portable color video camera;
  3. one video tape recorder;
  4. microphones, sound mixer, tripod, lighting equipment, carrying cases, and other appurtenant items;
  5. cablecasting equipment;
  6. such cable equipment as is necessary to enable videotaped programming produced at one handicapped-accessible location within the system to be cablecast.
These minimum facilities will be required to be available for use regardless of whether an access administrative entity has been established. Until such entity is established, the operator of the system will administer PEG access as provided in its filed plan.

(B) Larger or more established systems receiving a renewed certificate of public good will be required to support a greater level of capital equipment for PEG access. Negotiation is the preferred method of setting this funding level; however, a standard level of funding for capital equipment is equal to one half of one percent of the system gross operating revenues resulting from Vermont cable television operations.

(C) Larger or more established systems receiving a renewed certificate of public good will be required to support a greater level of operating expenses for PEG access. Negotiation is the preferred method of setting this funding level; however, a standard level of funding for operating expenses is equal to two percent of the system gross operating revenues resulting from Vermont cable television operations.

(D) In any dispute as to funding levels which is brought before the Board, the standard levels described above shall be presumed to be the proper levels; any party advocating either a higher or lower funding level shall have the burden of proving that such higher or lower level is proper.

(E) Both capital and operating expenses may be contributed in-kind by the operator, such as space in a head-end or office building and time spent by the operator's employees on access efforts. The level and monetary value of such in-kind contributions shall be set by the negotiations of the operator and the access administrative entity.

(F) The minimum facilities required by paragraph A, above, are to be funded from or credited against the capital and operating contributions required by paragraphs B and C.

(G) When negotiations between an operator and an access administrative entity cannot be concluded, either party may petition the Board for a determination of appropriate terms. In determining such disputes the Board will consider:

  1. the number of subscribers on the system;
  2. the size of the community;
  3. demonstrated interest in the community in PEG access;
  4. effectiveness of the access programs, including number of people trained in use of the equipment, number of programs produced, number of programs cablecast, hours of programming placed on the access channel or channels, community contributions and donations for the support of access, and public perceptions of and support for access.
(H) Access capital and operating funds need not be provided until access operations exist to support. However, the duty to support PEG access attaches to the certificate of public good; when access operations begin, the operator is required to provide the funds both from the current year and from the years before access operations begin. The operator and the access administrative entity shall negotiate the schedule by which the previous years' funds will be paid.

(I) Funds accruing in the hands of the operator which are not currently being used to support PEG access accrue interest, but need not be sequestered or kept as cash on hand for future access funding. Interest shall be computed at the legal rate (see 9 V.S.A. 41(a)) but not compounded, and shall be computed as though payments were made monthly.

(J) Larger and more established operators will also be expected to provide additional locations for the cablecasting of live programming. In the largest systems this means that at least one school or the town or city hall in each municipality served by the system would be served by a cable having the ability to carry programming back to the headend for cablecasting.

(K) This rule neither forbids nor requires the sharing of equipment and facilities between neighboring systems or between systems owned by the same company, if the sharing is approved by the access administrative entity or entities.

(L) In the event a tax or fee is enacted by the Legislature of the State of Vermont, and if it is determined that both the tax or fee and a PEG access funding requirement imposed by the certificate of public good or by a PEG access plan are both defined as franchise fee payments under the Cable Communi- cations Policy Act of 1984, as amended, the PEG access funding requirement shall be waived to the extent the State fee plus the PEG access funding requirement total more than 5% of the operator's gross revenues.

8.452 Interconnection of neighboring systems. (Reserved for later rulemaking.)

8.453 Other. Any other provision concerning the designation and use of channel capacity for public, educational, and governmental access consistent with federal and state law may be included in a certificate.

8.460 Waivers and Rulings.

8.461 Availability. A cable television operator, a municipality, or an entity designated to administer a public access channel may seek a waiver of one or more provisions of this rule by application to the Board.

8.462 Rulings by Board. Any interested person may seek a ruling from the Board concerning the applicability or implementation of any provision of this section or any provision of a certificate concerning PEG access.

8.463 No editorial control. Notwithstanding the above, the Board shall not grant any waiver or ruling, or enter any order that constitutes the exercise of editorial control over the content of public access programming.

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