(a) To the extent permitted by, and not contrary to applicable federal law, rules and regulations:
(1) Prescribe standards for procedures and practices which franchising authorities shall follow in considering the issuance of cable franchises, which standards shall provide for the forms of applications and proposals, the filing of all franchise applications, proposals and related documents as public records, with reasonable notice to the public that such records are open to inspection and examination during reasonable business hours; the holding of a public hearing, upon reasonable notice to the public, at which the applications or proposals shall be examined and members of the public and interested parties are afforded a reasonable opportunity to express their views thereon; the rendition of a written report by the franchising authority made to the public, setting forth the reasons for its decision in awarding or not awarding the franchise; and such other procedural standards governing the issuance of cable franchises mandated by the provisions of this article or as the commission may otherwise deem necessary or appropriate to assure maximum public participation and competition and to protect the public interest;
(2) Prescribe minimum standards for inclusion in franchises, including maximum initial and renewal terms; minimum channel capacity; provisions regarding public, educational or governmental access facilities; a requirement that no such franchise may be exclusive; standards necessary or appropriate to protect the interests of viewers of free broadcast television and the public generally, which prohibit or limit cable operators from prohibiting or entering into agreements prohibiting the sale or other transfer of rights for the simultaneous or subsequent transmission over free broadcast television; and such other standards for inclusion in franchises as the commission shall deem necessary or appropriate to protect the public interest, including any provision regulating the rates for cable services to the extent that the same is not in conflict with federal law, rules or regulations;
(3) Prescribe standards by which a franchising authority shall determine whether an applicant possesses: (i) The technical ability; (ii) the financial ability; (iii) the good character; and (iv) other qualifications necessary to operate a cable system in the public interest;
(4) Prescribe standards for the construction and operation of cable systems, which standards shall be designed to promote: (i) Safe, adequate and reliable service to subscribers; (ii) the construction and operation of systems consistent with the most advanced state of the art; (iii) a construction schedule providing for maximum penetration as rapidly as possible within the limitations of economic feasibility; (iv) the construction of systems with the maximum practicable channel capacity, facilities for local program origination, facilities to provide service in areas conforming to various community interests, facilities with the technical capacity for interconnection with other systems within regions as established in the commission's statewide plan and facilities capable of transmitting signals from subscribers to the cable system or to other points; and (v) the prompt handling of inquiries, complaints and requests for repairs;
(5) Prescribe such standards for the prohibition or limitation of concentration of control over mass media and communication companies and facilities and methods of enforcing such standards, as the commission may determine to be necessary or appropriate to protect the public interest: Provided, That nothing contained herein shall be construed to authorize the impairment of any existing rights of any mass media and communication company or any subsidiary thereof;
(b) Provide advice and technical assistance to other franchising authorities and community organizations in matters relating to cable franchises and services;
(c) Establish minimum specifications for equipment, service and safety of cable;
(d) Represent the interests of citizens of this state before the federal communications commission and make available information to the public on communications developments at the federal level;
(e) Stimulate and encourage cooperative arrangements among organizations, institutions, counties and municipalities in the development of public, educational or governmental access facilities;
(f) Maintain liaison with the communications industry and other parties, both public and private, having an interest therein, other states and political subdivisions of this state to promote the rapid and harmonious development of cable services as set forth in the legislative findings and intent of this article;
(g) Undertake such studies as may be necessary to meet the responsibilities and objectives of this article; and
(h) Implement the provisions of this article in a manner which is cognizant of the differing financial and administrative capabilities of cable systems of different sizes.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2016 Regular Session
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