by J. Tyson Covey
For decades, cities and municipalities have counted on steady revenue from the franchise fees they charge cable companies for use of the public rights-of-way (ROWs). Such fees are imposed by local franchising authorities (LFAs). Under the federal Cable Act, these fees could be as high as 5% of a cable operator's gross revenues from providing cable TV service. 47 U.S.C. Â§ 542(b).
As the television industry has migrated toward streaming platforms, cable TV revenues have been affected, leading local governments to seek new sources of income from entities using the public ROW. One effort has been to try to impose local fees on streaming platforms, like Netflix or Hulu, that send video using broadband service provided over wires in the public ROW. That has been largely unsuccessful, as discussed [elsewhere].