Florida government is the worst, sometimes, but definitely for cable TV

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 29, 2016, 7:35 PM | comments: 0

Florida has a reputation for being barely functional in some ways. The moronic things written into the state constitution rival only the stupidity of Ohio. Not everything is broken though. I mean, the state gets a lot of money from tourists, and at least in Orange County, the school district isn't starving. In fact, it's amazing how easily they can plan and build new schools as needed.

Unfortunately, the one area where I know local government best, the regulation of cable TV, is a total train wreck. I worked part-time in high school in college for the City of Brunswick's cable office, which administered that city's franchise agreement with the various owners of the cable system, then I ran the newly created counterpart of that office in the City of Medina. They had just finished a new franchise agreement at the time, but it was a fairly short term, so had I stuck around I would've been there for the renewal. The key thing in both of those cities was that they collected franchise fees from the cable operator, which they rolled back in to local access for the city, school and public.

In 2007, Florida passed a state law designating the state as the single franchising authority. It neuters local municipalities entirely. It prohibits franchise fees entirely, for the municipalities or the state. No one can impose any kind of build-out requirements. Worst of all, there are no detailed performance requirements, and the state does little more than act as an arbiter for complaints. The operators are required to provide access channels, but what good is that if there are no fees to help pay for local production?

The Florida legislature got used, and municipalities lose.


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