Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

TO:HONORABLE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL

FROM:ASSISTANT CITY MANAGER

DATE:FEBRUARY 4, 2003

SUBJECT:ADOPTION OF FINDINGS FOR THE FIRST SYSTEM PERFORMANCE AUDIT OF 2000 CABLE TELEVISION FRANCHISE AGREEMENT WITH COX COMMUNICATIONS

RECOMMENDATION

Adopt Resolution No. 2003- ; making findings regarding the first scheduled system performance audit of the 2000 Cable Television Franchise Agreement.

DISCUSSION

On January 7, 2003, the City Council conducted the first system performance audit of 2000 Cable Television Franchise Renewal Agreement with Cox Communications. Pursuant to Section 8.1(c) of the Agreement, within 30 days after the conclusion of the performance audit (which ended on January 15, 2003), the City may issue findings with respect to system compliance (February 14, 2003). As part of the findings, the City Council may direct Cox Communications to correct any noncompliance that was identified as part of the audit within a reasonable period of time. Therefore, based on the feedback and direction the Council provided at the January 7th meeting, staff has prepared a draft Resolution (see attached), which contains the findings, identifies the areas of non-compliance and specifies the actions and timeline allotted to correct these items.

Council may recall that in the January 7th staff report, staff noted that the cable operator had not been in compliance with minimum federal standards to customer service response times during the first half of 2002. The problem was attributed to the transition from the original high-speed Internet service to a service owned and operated by Cox Communications. Because the data for the second half of 2002 was unavailable at the time January 7th report was prepared, staff was unable to draw any conclusions about whether the problem had been corrected. Unfortunately, staff has still not received this data. Therefore, staff has identified this as an additional area of non-compliance in the attached Resolution.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

In the January 7th staff report, staff indicated that the number of customer complaints the City staff receives each year regarding the cable service is very low compared to the number of subscribers in the City. Following the broadcast of the Council meeting, the City received two complaints emails from Cox customers who were watching the broadcast of the meeting. Lois & Jack Karp related their bad experience with the installation of high speed Internet service, while Jorg & Anke Raue made more general complaints about poor broadcast quality and rate increases. In keeping with City practice, Staff forwarded both complaints to Cox Communications for response. Cox responded to both parties within seven calendar days of receiving the complaints from the City. The original complaints and the cable operator’s responses are attached for the Council’s information.

Respectfully submitted:

Carolynn Petru

Assistant City Manager

Attachments:

Draft Resolution No. 2003- ;

 


RESOLUTION NO. 2003-

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES MAKING FINDINGS IN CONNECTION WITH THE FIRST SCHEDULED SYSTEM PERFORMANCE AUDIT OF 2000 CABLE TELEVISION FRANCHISE AGREEMENT WITH COX COMMUNICATIONS

WHEREAS, On October 17, 2000, the City Council adopted Resolution No. 2000-71, thereby entering into a non-exclusive, ten year Cable Television Franchise Renewal Agreement with Cox Communications; and,

WHEREAS, the 2000 Franchise Renewal Agreement includes a requirement that three system performance audits be conducted following the second, fourth and sixth anniversary dates of the Agreement. October 17, 2002 marked the second anniversary of the Franchise Renewal Agreement. Pursuant to Section 8.1(b) of the Agreement, the City and Cox Communications were required to meet within 90 days following the second anniversary date of the Agreement to review the performance of the cable television system; and,

WHEREAS, on January 7, 2003, within 90 days following the second anniversary date of the Agreement, the City Council reviewed the performance of the cable television system; and,

WHEREAS, pursuant to Section 8.1(c) of the Agreement, within 30 days after the conclusion of the performance audit, the City may issue findings with respect to system compliance. If any noncompliance is identified, the City may direct Cox Communications to correct the noncompliance within a reasonable period of time; and,

NOW, THEREFORE, THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES DOES HEREBY FIND, DETERMINE AND RESOLVE AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1: The Cable Television Franchise Renewal Agreement (Exhibit C - Technology Implementation Plan) required Cox Communications to upgrade its cable network from a hybrid coaxial cable system to fiber optic technology with a total bandwidth of 750 Megahertz (MHz) by December 31, 2000. The City Council finds that the cable operator complied with this requirement of the Agreement. In addition, Exhibit C required the new fiber optic cable network to include greater system reliability, enhanced picture quality, the ability to support new services and future technologies, and an expanded channel capacity. The City Council finds as follows:

  • The cable operator has provided greater system reliability by continuously monitoring the system’s power supplies, fiber nodes and high-speed data routers (24 hours a day, seven days a week); equipping each fiber node with its own power supply; equipping the Master Telecommunications Center (MTC) with a diesel generator in the event of an extended power outage and Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) to protect against power surges. These modifications to the cable system have resulted in the cable operator achieving a 99.94% reliability index from the Federal Communications Commission, which indicates the "up time" of the cable system per year for both video and high-speed data services.

  • The cable operator has provided enhanced picture quality by continuously monitoring the cable network system for signal leakage. For the last two consecutive years, the cable operator has achieved an FCC Award of Excellence with a score of 100% for Cable Signal Index (CSI). A perfect score means that no signal leakage was found to exist in the cable network system. In addition, the cable operator now uses fiber optic connections from its local VHF station studios to the Master Telecommunications Center, rather than picking up VHF signals via antenna. The digital connections have improved the quality of the transmission and reliability of the system because they are no longer susceptible to "ghosting" or atmospheric conditions.

  • The cable operator has provided a fiber optic network capable of supporting new service and future technologies. With the completion of the new system, the cable operator has introduced three new services to the community: digital cable programming (30 new digital channels), high-speed data service (Internet access) and Home Networking (a home computer networking solution for high-speed data customers) and is currently preparing to offer two new products, High Definition Television (HDTV) and Video On Demand (VOD), in 2003.

  • The cable operator has provided an expanded channel capacity by adding 10 new analog channels and 30 new digital channels to its line up since 2000. In addition, the new system still has future bandwidth capacity for 7 additional analog channels, 111 additional digital channels, as well as telephony service.

  • The cable operator has upgraded the Emergency Alert System (EAS), which allows local government and law enforcement to send emergency messages to cable television subscribers via "text crawls" at the top of the screen or by overriding audio and/or video. The cable operator’s EAS currently exceeds FCC minimum requirements.

Section 2: Section 76.309(c) of Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations, which is incorporated as an attachment to the Franchise Renewal Agreement, contains standards regarding the cable operator’s customer service obligations. The standards require that customer calls be answered with thirty (30) seconds of the connection being made and that the cable operator achieve this standard ninety (90) percent of the time, under normal operating conditions. Although the cable operator was in compliance with the federal standards during 2001, it did not meet the standards during the first half of 2002. The deficiency was attributed to an unusually high volume of calls generated by a sudden change in its high-speed Internet service provider. However, the cable operator did not provide the City with data for the second half of the year to determine if the deficiency has been subsequently corrected. Therefore, the City Council finds that the cable operator is not in compliance with its the federal customer service obligations. In addition, the City Council expressed concern about the fact that the cable operator closed its local customer service call center in December 2002 and now all local customer service calls are transferred to a centralized call center located in San Diego. Therefore, the City Council directs the cable operator to address these two issues within a reasonable period of time, as specified in the attached Exhibit A.

Section 3: In addition to the state and federal customer service requirements that are incorporated as attachments to the Franchise Renewal Agreement, the City has required the cable operator to comply with some additional customer service requirements, which are included in Exhibit D (Customer Protection Standards) of the Agreement. The City Council finds that the cable operator was in compliance with the following customer service standards during the first scheduled system performance audit:

  • Providing required notifications to new subscribers and continuing subscribers
  • Providing privacy flags
  • Providing notice of changes to the high speed Internet Acceptable Use Policy
  • Offering all-inclusive pricing
  • Advertising the "limited basic" package
  • Returning customer calls within 24 hours

The City Council finds that the cable operator was only in partial compliance with the following customer service standard during the first scheduled system performance audit:

  • Providing public education regarding programming issues and "must carry" stations. The audit revealed that, although the cable operator complied in 2001, no similar effort was made in 2002.

Therefore, the City Council directs the cable operator to address this issue within a reasonable period of time, as specified in the attached Exhibit A.

The City Council finds that the cable operator was not in compliance with the following customer service standards during the first scheduled system performance audit:

  • Posting information on the reader board regarding the procedure for filing a complaint. The cable operator has not been providing this service due to an apparent conflict over who has control of the content shown on Government Access Channel 3.
  • Ensuring that when a request for service is received, appointments will be made within 24 hours for a service outage, within three business days for service-related problems of existing customers and within five business days for installations, no less than 90% of the time under normal operating conditions measured on a quarterly basis. The audit revealed that the cable operator does not have a system in place to track this data, therefore, the City currently has no way of determining if the cable operator is in compliance with this standard.

Therefore, the City Council directs the cable operator to address these two issues within a reasonable period of time, as summarized in the attached Exhibit A.

Section 4: As required in Exhibit E (Support of Local Government Access) of the Franchise Renewal Agreement, the City Council finds that the cable operator has installed new audio and video equipment in the Council Chambers at City Hall and broadcasts Planning Commission meetings on Government Access Channel 3. However, the City Council is dissatisfied with the placement of the three robotic cameras in the Council Chambers, which have created "security camera" angles that resulted from the high placement of this equipment. In addition, the City Council finds that the cable operator has not provided reliable playback of City programming on Government Access Channel 3 in that the City has written to the cable operator on three occasions in 2001 and 2002 regarding multiple missed broadcasts. Therefore, the City Council directs the cable operator to address this issue within a reasonable period of time, as specified in the attached Exhibit A.

Section 5: Pursuant to Section 8.1(c) of the Franchise Renewal Agreement, the City Council hereby issues the findings contained in this Resolution with respect to the first system performance audit. Regarding the areas of non-compliance identified in Sections 2, 3 and 4 of this Resolution, the City Council hereby directs the cable operator to correct these items within reasonable time frames, as specified in Exhibit A, which is attached hereto and made a part thereof.

PASSED, APPROVED, and ADOPTED this 4th day of February 2003.

 

 

__________________________

MAYOR

ATTEST:

 

______________________

CITY CLERK

 

State of California)

County of Los Angeles)ss

City of Rancho Palos Verdes)

 

 

 

I, Jo Purcell, City Clerk of The City of Rancho Palos Verdes, hereby certify that the above Resolution No. 2003- was duly and regularly passed and adopted by the said City Council at regular meeting thereof held on February 4, 2003.

 

 

__________________________

CITY CLERK

 

Exhibit A

Cable Television Franchise Renewal Agreement

Non-Compliance Issues to be Resolved

Issue

Solution

Time Line

The cable operator did not meet federal customer response standards in the 1st half of 2002 and did not provide the City with data regarding the 2nd half of the year. The cable operator shall provide the City staff with the federal customer response statistics for the 2nd half of 2002. The statistics shall be provided to the City by the end of February 2003.
The cable operator’s local customer call center was closed in December 2002 and relocated to San Diego. The City Council is concerned that the change may result in decreased customer service response levels. The cable operator shall provide the City staff with federal customer service statistics on an annual basis. The first report shall be provided to the City by the end of January 2004. Subsequent reports shall be provided to the City annually thereafter.
Although it did so in 2001, the cable operator did not provide any public education regarding programming and "must carry" stations in 2002. City staff shall work with the cable operator to develop some type of pubic education on this topic during 2003.

New public education shall be provided and reported to City Council during calendar year 2003.

The cable operator has not been posting information on the Channel 3 Reader Board regarding the procedure for filing a complaint.

The cable operator shall provide staff with the appropriate information and City staff shall make arrangements with our contractor to post it on the Channel 3 Reader Board. Similar information shall also be posted on the City’s web site.

The information shall be posted on the Channel 3 Reader Board and City’s web site by the end of February 2003.

The cable operator has not kept statistics to document compliance with the City’s customer service standards regarding scheduling of service appointments. The cable operator shall develop a method of collecting the requested statistics and begin compiling this data in 2003. The first report shall be provided to the City by the end of January 2004. Subsequent reports shall be provided to the City annually thereafter.
The City Council is dissatisfied with the camera angles in the City Council Chambers at Hesse Park. City staff shall work with the cable operator to develop additional alternatives to those included in the January 7, 2002 staff report. City staff shall present a report to City Council on other ways to improve the camera angles, including picture simulations, by April 2003.
The cable operator has not provided reliable playback for City programming shown on Channel 3. The cable operator shall install a dedicated digital playback server for Channel 3 and develop a system where customers calling in regarding missed broadcasts shall receive an immediate response from the cable operator. The dedicated server shall be installed and the response system for missed broadcasts shall be implemented by the end of March 2003.