AGO 1993-09.

Case Date:September 09, 1993
Court:West Virginia
West Virginia Attorney General Opinions 1993. AGO 1993-09. West VirginiaAttorney General Opinion1993-09September 9, 1993DARRELL V. McGRAW, JR. ATTORNEY GENERAL Ms. Mary Collins Executive Secretary West Virginia Cable Television Advisory Board Post Office Box 812 Charleston, West Virginia 25323-0812 Dear Ms. Collins: In your letter of June 4, 1993, you requested our opinion "as to who is the cable television rate regulatory authority in West Virginia." More specifically, you inquired whether rate regulation is the responsibility of the West Virginia Cable Television Advisory Board (hereinafter the "Board") or the local franchising authorities? For the reasons discussed herein, it is our opinion that the Board is the sole instrumentality of the State of West Virginia authorized to regulate rates for cable television.The conclusion stated above is the result of an analysis of both federal and state law. Federal law must be analyzed due to the fact that it is preeminent in the area of telecommunication policy including cable television. The federal government has reserved to itself control of the regulation of the cable television industry. This is accomplished through the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984, as amended. 47 U.S.C. $$$$ 521 et seq. (Supp. 1993). In enacting this legislation, Congress declared, in $$ 521, its purposes are to:
(1) establish a national policy concerning cable communications;
(2) establish franchise procedures and standards which encourage the growth and development of cable systems and which assure that cable systems are responsive to the needs and interests of the local community;
(3) establish guidelines for the exercise of Federal, State, and local authority with respect to the regulation of cable systems;
(4) assure that cable communications provide and are encouraged to provide the widest possible diversity of information sources and services to the public;
(5) establish an orderly process for franchise renewal which protects cable operators against unfair denials of renewal where the operator's past performance and proposal for future performance meet the standards established by this title; and
(6) promote competition in cable communications and minimize unnecessary regulation that would impose an undue economic burden on cable systems.
(Emphasis added.) Congress was concerned that there be a coordination of federal, state, and local authority:
Except as provided in section 637 [47 U.S.C. $$ 557], any provision of law of any State, political subdivision, or agency thereof, or franchising authority, or any provision of any franchise granted by such authority, which is inconsistent with this Act shall be deemed to be preempted and superseded.
47 U.S.C. $$ 556(c) (Supp. 1993) (bracketed material in original). The federal courts have interpreted this provision to mean that only those state laws and...

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