In the Scoping Memo, the assigned Commissioner notes several factors tending to show that it would be premature at this time for the Commission to adopt principles or policies regarding video franchise renewal. These factors include: (1) a state video franchise would not be renewed any earlier than 2017; (2) between now and 2017 the federal and state law applicable to state video franchise holders likely would evolve significantly; and (3) the Commission has had little practical experience with DIVCA on which to base renewal principles or policies. Parties were invited to comment on whether any issue regarding franchise renewal was ripe for determination at this time.
All parties commenting on franchise renewal agree that the Commission should not try to adopt comprehensive policies and principles at this time.36 Two parties, however, suggest the Commission consider specific timing for its adoption of renewal policies and principles. These parties' concern is that "Video providers should have sufficient time to evaluate renewal requirements and the opportunity to ensure compliance with whatever renewal rules are adopted." SureWest TeleVideo, Opening Comments at p. 6, recommends renewal rules be in place at least a year before the expiration of the initial grants of franchises (in other words, by 2016). Id. Small LECs recommend the rules be in place still earlier, at least three years before expiration of the first state franchises (i.e., by 2014); they further recommend that the Commission automatically extend a franchise on a day-for-day-basis if the holder does not have the benefit of a full three years' operation with knowledge of the adopted renewal requirements prior to renewal. Small LECs, Opening Comments at pp. 5-6. AT&T California believes the Commission should adopt renewal rules "a reasonable time" before current franchises expire. AT&T California, Reply Comments at p. 5.
We agree that we should adopt renewal rules a reasonable time before current state franchises begin to expire in 2017. Unfortunately, we cannot be certain about when this Commission will be in a position to adopt a comprehensive set of renewal policies and principles. We depend, in large part, on the actions of state and federal legislators. Those actions are beyond our control.
There are two actions we can take now to ensure timely policymaking by the Commission regarding state video franchise renewals. First, we will endorse the Commission's opening a rulemaking no later than April 2011, or such earlier time as the matter may be deemed ripe, to adopt principles and policies regarding state video franchise renewals. Second, we remind the parties that any interested person, under Pub. Util. Code § 1708.5(f), may petition the Commission at any time to adopt a regulation pertaining state video franchise renewals. We will direct that the petition cite this decision and discuss with specificity the developments, such as changes of law or other occurrences, that cause the renewal issues to be ripe for determination by the Commission.
36 AT&T California, Opening Comments at p. 4 and Reply Comments at p. 5; Small LECs, Opening Comments at pp. 5-6; CCTA, Opening Comments at p. 8; SureWest TeleVideo, Opening Comments at p. 6; Verizon California Inc., Opening Comments at p. 7.