To The Daily Sun,
"Cable television system'' means facilities by which television signals are received at a central location and for consideration are transmitted to customers or subscribers by means of cables or wires — RSA 53-C:1 Definitions.
In this chapter:
Point 1 - "Cable TV signals are one-way transmission. A television receiver does not communicate back to the transmitter."
"Authority to Grant Franchises. — Municipalities are hereby authorized to grant, renew, amend or rescind for cause franchises for the installation and operation of cable television systems in accordance with the provisions of this chapter within the geographical limits of its respective town or city. Provisions of this chapter within the geographical limits of its respective town or city." — RSA 53-C:3
"Authority to Establish Fees and Impose Conditions. – In conjunction with the rights granted in said franchises, any franchising authority may require reasonable fees payable to the municipality and may impose conditions not inconsistent with applicable rules and regulations of the Federal Communications Commission, as amended from time to time." — RSA 53-C:4
Point 2 – Cable TV subscribers have been paying a communication tax, as if it was a telephone customer with the exception that the cable company has not been governed by the N.H. Public Utilities Commission. What is problematic, and known by the N.H. Department of Revenue Administration, is that the tax is not applicable under current laws because communication such as is a two way process but it has never been legally challenged in the courts. (Check your cable bill.)
CONCLUSION.Technological advances allowed cable TV corporations to provide two-way communications as an internet provider and telephone, neither of which is not currently governed by the PUC.
However, the FCC in 2015 implemented “net neutrality rules,” which treat internet service providers like public utilities. In my opinion the telephone industry and the cable TV corporations should be on an equal playing field, but the cable TV, internet and phone providers in New Hampshire continue to escape the approval for its rates by the Public Utilities Commission. Furthermore, the franchise laws are obsolete because the cable TV/internet, with telephone comapnies are unregulated, while the telephone companies are regulated. The historical Bell System/land line providers struggle to make a reasonable profit.
In fact one could take the approach that the old-fashion phone company two-way communication breaches a franchise by providing DSL, internet, Vvdeo sports, TV news, movies and other commercial broadcasts comparable to cable providers.
It’s time that the franchise laws are deleted and the N.H. Public Utilities Commission relinquishes it control of all two-way communication industries. Competition is in the best interest of all consumers. Support and implement “net-neutral” it’s the law.
Thomas A. Tardif
- Written by Edward Engler
- Category: Letters
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