Weekly News From the President: It’s the Law: Some Good News for California Communities
It took about a year and a half, but California Attorney General Kamala Harris’s Office came forward with a ruling this month that supports the right of local communities to use PEG fees to support PEG.
At stake was the 1% PEG fee on cable bills that communities can still collect under the State franchising law passed ten years ago – a fee paid in exchange for the right to use public property to make money under the cable franchise law.
And who was against the rights of California communities to collect what they were legally entitled to under the law?
That would be Charter Communications.
Charter has been unilaterally withholding PEG payments to communities in California – making the spurious claim that PEG Fees were a tax and that local voters had to first pass a referendum with a super-majority to support these services.
The Attorney General’s office summarily rejected Charter’s version of California law, rightly noting that the fee is not levied as a tax, but comes as a result of the Franchise. You can find the opinion here.
Whether this settles the matter is unclear: Will Charter actually comply with California law and pay the rent that’s due?
Let’s see. Hopefully they will start paying what’s legally due to communities in San Luis Obispo County, Santa Cruz County, Lake County and other locales. Many California communities are financially strapped and have been hurt by Charter’s creative interpretation of the law.
And in the meantime, maybe it isn’t a good idea to reward a company that doesn’t comply with the law…so maybe the California PUC and federal regulators should take a look at this question as they weigh the proposed Charter – Time Warner merger.