old header Cable Regulation

Cable Franchise Enforcement History

Examples of MHCRC Regulatory Action:

CenturyLink Failure to Meet Customer Service Standards (2015)
In December, CenturyLink received a noncompliance notice for failure to adhered to applicable customer service obligations regarding telephone answering and appointment standards. CenturyLink established a curative plan to intends to cure the noncompliance by June 30, 2016.

Frontier Failure to Meet Density Requirement (2015)
In December, Frontier received a noncompliance notice for failure to make Cable Services available to a newly developed area in the City of Gresham.

MHCRC establishes conditions under which the cable companies may use the message center capabilities of converter boxed as meeting 30-Day Advance Written Notice to Subscribers Requirement for Channel Reductions (2014)
MHCRC has long held the position that written notice, in the form of a bill message or direct mail letter, must be provided to each subscriber at least 30 days in advance of changes if the changes are within the cable company’s control. However, at the request of Frontier, the MHCRC agreed to consider alternative forms of communicating with subscribers as technology evolves, so long as the alternatives are comparatively adequate, effective and correspond to the spirit and intent of the consumer protection provision. As a result of discussions with the cable companies, the MHCRC voted to accept cable companies using message center capabilities of their converter boxes to provide subscribers 30 day advance notice of channel reductions, as meeting the requirements of Section V of the Customer Service Standards, under the following conditions:

  • All subscribers, regardless of service level, must have access to the message center.
  • Subscribers must be provided written information about how to access the message center and that the company intends to communicate important information about services using the message center. The company must provide this information to subscribers at the time of service installation, and at least annually thereafter, and separately at any time upon request by the subscriber.
  • In addition to all the information needed to fully inform the subscriber of an impending channel reduction, message center notices shall include a telephone number by which subscribers can reach a trained company service representative.
  • Subscribers must be made aware that a message center notice is available for viewing, for example, by a blinking light on the converter box or other equivalent method.
  • Message center notices shall appear, and remain accessible, to the subscriber at least 30 days in advance of a channel reduction taking effect.
  • Notice, in the form of a bill message, shall also appear in the billing cycle closest to the channel reduction taking effect.

The requirement that written notice, in the form of a bill message or direct mail letter, must be given to subscribers at least 30-days in advance of any changes in rates or programming services other than channel reductions (if the change is within the control of the cable company) remains in effect.

Frontier Failure to Meet Notice Requirements (2013)
Section V Notice Requirements of the Customer Service Standards requires that, “Customers shall be notified of any changes in rates, programming services or channel positions as soon as possible in writing. Notice must be given to subscribers a minimum of 30 days in advance of such changes if the change is within the control of cable operator.” The purpose of this consumer protection provision is to ensure subscribers are given at least 30 days to consider service changes and to alter their service level if desired before the service change takes effect. The MHCRC has demonstrated a strong commitment to these consumer protection provisions on numerous occasions, and has affirmed that notice, in the form of a bill message or direct mail letter, must be provided to each subscriber at least 30 days in advance of changes if the changes are within the cable company’s control. The noncompliance process resulted in MHCRC Order 2014-03 establishing conditions under which the franchised cable providers may use the capabilities of the message center of the converter box as adequate means by which to provide the required 30-Day advance written notice to subscribers for channel reductions.

Comcast Failure to Customer Service Standards: 4th Quarter 2012
In February 2013, Comcast received a noncompliance notice for its failure to meet applicable customer service standards related to trained company representatives and telephone answering time. MHCRC staff asserted that Comcast had not: 1) provided trained company representatives to respond to customer telephone inquires during Normal Business Hours in violation of Customer Service Standards Section III(A); 2) reported accurate telephone answering time by trained company representatives during Normal Business Hours (between 8:00 A.M and 6:00 P.M, Monday through Saturday) in violation of Customer Service Standards Section III(A); and 3) met telephone answering standards in violation of Customer Service Standards Section III(B).
At the May 2013 MHCRC meeting, the MHCRC approved Order 2013-03, accepting Comcast’s Curative Plan and granted Comcast an extended time period (through June 30, 2013) for Comcast to meet the applicable Customer Service Standards. The Order also directed that if Comcast failed to achieve a cure for the quarter ending June 30, 2013, the MHCRC would, upon direction from the MHCRC Chair, commence a formal hearing process, in accordance with the MHCRC Rules of Procedure, for the purpose of determining Comcast’s compliance with phone answering and on-hold customer service standards for 4th quarter 2012, 1st and 2nd quarters 2013.
September 2013 – Comcast was not able to achieve a cure. After a Notice of Formal Hearing was issued to Comcast, MHCRC staff and Comcast representatives discussed and reached agreement on financial remedies in order to settle the violation within the terms of the franchise agreement. The proposal is embodied in Stipulated Order 2013-05. The Order imposes penalties in the amount of $10,000 per quarter for phone answering standards violations for 4th Quarter 2012, 1st Quarter 2013 and 2nd Quarter 2013. The proposed agreement includes a possible waiver of the 2nd Quarter financial remedy if Comcast cures the phone answering problem in 3rd Quarter 2013. If Comcast fails to achieve a cure in 3rd Quarter 2013, Comcast will pay the $10,000 penalty for 2nd Quarter, along with another $10,000 for the 3rd Quarter 2013 violation. The franchise agreement includes a rolling 12-month cap of $40,000 for violations of Customer Service Standards.
MHCRC staff was able to waive the 2nd Quarter financial remedy upon Comcast curing the violation in 3rd Quarter 2013.

Frontier Failure to Provide Reports and Records (2012)
In December 2012, Frontier received a noncompliance notice for its failure to meet applicable franchise provision to provide reports deemed reasonably necessary by the MHCRC.
A formal hearing was set for March 18, 2013 in accordance with MHCRC Rules of Procedure. Prior to the hearing, staff was able to determine that Frontier affected a cure as of March 4, therefore the hearing was canceled.

Frontier Failure to Meet Telephone Answering Standards: 2nd Quarter 2012
In July 2012, Frontier received a noncompliance notice for its  failure to meet telephone answering standards for 2nd quarter 2012. Frontier is obligated to answer the phone within 30 seconds 90% of the time during normal operating conditions as measured on a quarterly basis. Frontier was able to cure the violation.

Comcast Failure to Meet Telephone Answering Standards: 3rd Quarter 2011
In September 2011, Comcast received a noncompliance notice for its failure to meet telephone answering standards for 3rd quarter 2011. Comcast is obligated to answer the phone within 30 seconds 90% of the time during normal operating conditions as measured on a quarterly basis. Comcast was able to cure the violation.

Frontier Failure to meet Customer Service Standards: Local Office and Office Hours (2011)
In September 2011, Frontier received a noncompliance notice for its failure to meet customer service standards relevant to the Company maintaining a local office and office hours. Frontier closed its local office located at 314 NW Eastman Parkway in Gresham on July 22, however continued to charge subscribers a fee for bill payments made over the phone.
On December 19, 2011, the MHCRC convened a formal hearing, as provided under §6 of the MHCRC’s Rules of Procedure, to consider whether Frontier had violated §9.1.1.1 of the Franchise and Section II of the Customer Service Standards. Following consideration of the information provided at the hearing, the Commission unanimously voted to find Frontier in material violation of its franchise agreements and directed staff to draft an order containing findings of fact and conclusions of law, as provided under §6.9 of the Rules of Procedure. Upon finding Frontier in material violation of its franchise agreements, the MHCRC determined that a penalty of $17,400.00 total for calendar year 2012, consisting of $15,000.00 (for the period July 22, 2011 through December 19, 2011) and an additional $2,400.00 (calculated at a rate of $200 per day for the 12 days from December 20 – December 31, 2011) for Frontier’s failure to comply with the franchise was appropriate.  The MHCRC also determined that a penalty of $200 per day, beginning January 1, 2012, for each additional day during which the violations remain uncorrected shall be assessed.  In making its penalty determination, the MHCRC considered the number of cable subscribers burdened by the violation, the nature of how these subscribers were affected, the extent of the violation, the history of similar failures by Frontier, and the amount of remedy required to deter future franchise violations. (refer to Order 2012-01)

Comcast Failure to Meet Telephone Answering Standards: 1st Quarter 2011
In April 2011, Comcast received a noncompliance notice for its failure to meet telephone answering standards for 1st quarter 2011. Comcast is obligated to answer the phone within 30 seconds 90% of the time during normal operating conditions as measured on a quarterly basis. Comcast was able to cure the violation.

Verizon Failure to Provide Monthly Subscriber Bill Information (2010)
In February 2012, Verizon received a noncompliance notice for failure to adhered to §3.5, Franchise Subject to Federal Law, of the franchises with respect to federal law provision 47 C.F.R §76.952.  §76.952(a) of the Federal Code, including proceeding sections addressing customer complaints, governs the information to be provided by the cable operator on monthly subscriber bills and states that all cable operators must provide the following information to subscribers: The name, mailing address and phone number of the franchising authority, unless the franchising authority in writing requests the cable operator to omit such information. According to the sample customer bills received by the Commission since January 1, 2010 (received Jan. 1 and Feb. 1 in compliance with §10.4.3 of the franchises), Verizon has omitted the name, mailing address and phone number of the MHCRC from customer bills.

Verizon Failure to Meet Service Installation Standards: 4th Quarter 2009
In January 2010, Verizon received a noncompliance notice for failure to meet applicable customer service standards regarding appointment windows and standard installations. MHCRC staff noted for Verizon and the MHCRC that this is the second noncompliance incident in 2009 for Verizon’s failure to meet the Standard Installation requirement. Verizon received notice of noncompliance for First Quarter 2009. MHCRC staff believed this indicated that Verizon had not continued its efforts to address the noncompliance in good faith. Verizon was able to cure the violation.

Verizon Failure to Meet Service Installation Standards: 1st Quarter 2009
In May 2009, Verizon received a noncompliance notice for failure to meet applicable customer service standards regarding appointment windows and standard installations. Verizon is obligated under §9 of the franchise to honor an appointment window no less than ninety five (95) percent of the time measured on a quarterly basis. Quarterly statistics provided by Verizon on April 30 indicate the Company met Appointment Windows only 85.85% of the time as measured on a quarterly basis.
A formal hearing was tentatively scheduled for September 21. Verizon documented a cure of the violation in its 2nd Quarter statistics and the formal hearing was canceled.

Verizon Failure to Provide MetroEast PEG Access Channels (2009)
January 2009 – The MHCRC unanimously voted to schedule a a formal hearing, in accordance with MHCRC Rules of Procedure, for February 23, 2009 in order to make a determination on a potential franchise violation with respect to Verizon’s failure to include MetroEast PEG channels as part of Basic Service when Verizon began offering cable service to subscribers in its Gresham service area on November 25, 2008 (Service Date).

Comcast Failure to Meet Telephone Answering Standards: 1st Quarter 2009
In March 2009, Comcast received a noncompliance notice for its failure to meet telephone answering standards for 1st quarter 2009. Comcast is obligated to answer the phone within 30 seconds 90% of the time during normal operating conditions as measured on a quarterly basis. Comcast was able to cure the violation.

Comcast Failure to Meet Customer Service Standards – Notice Requirements (2006-2007)
MHCRC voted to fine Comcast $43,899 for failure to notify customers of service changes. (MHCRC advocates that any penalty amounts assessed be credited on affected subscriber bills.)
In connection with failing to adequately notify subscribers of the loss of several cable channels which moved to more expensive digital tiers in October 2007, and as part of an ongoing effort to hold Comcast accountable for its services to more than 150,000 subscribers who live in Multnomah County, the Mt. Hood Cable Regulatory Commission (“MHCRC”) unanimously voted to assess Comcast $43,899 for violating the 30-day customer service notice requirement of franchise agreements overseen by the MHCRC on behalf of Multnomah County and the Cities of Portland, Gresham, Troutdale, Fairview, and Wood Village (“Jurisdictions”).

Section V of the Customer Service Standards requires that Comcast provide subscribers with 30-day advance written notice of any changes in rates, programming or channel positions.

  • Order 2008-01: Establishing Penalties for Comcast’s Failure to Meet Customer Service Standards re: 30-day Advance Notice To Subscribers for Programming and Channel Changes
  • On April 3 Comcast notified the MHCRC that it would not be administratively possible to identify affected subscribers in order to process refunds. Therefore, Comcast paid the total penalty ($43,899) to the Commission.

Comcast Failure to Meet Telephone Answering Standards: 1st Quarter 2007
In March 2007, Comcast received a noncompliance notice for its failure to meet telephone answering standards for 1st quarter 2007. Comcast is obligated to answer the phone within 30 seconds 90% of the time during normal operating conditions as measured on a quarterly basis. Comcast was able to cure the violation.

Comcast Failure to meet Telephone Answering Standards: 3rd Quarter 2005
In October 2005 Comcast received a noncompliance notice for its failure to meet telephone answering standards for 3rd quarter 2005. Comcast is obligated to answer the phone within 30 seconds 90% of the time during normal operating conditions as measured on a quarterly basis.  The information provided indicates Comcast answered the phone within 30 seconds only 84.6% of the time.
Comcast cured the violation through documentation of is October 2005 telephone answering statistics, which indicated that Comcast answered the phone within 30 seconds 93.3% of the time.

Comcast – Company/Subscriber Service Agreements (2003-2005)
In early February 2003, the MHCRC requested that Comcast provide proposed changes to any service agreements affecting area subscribers in order to have an opportunity to review/discuss with Comcast. While the Company did not give MHCRC staff this courtesy, a local news reporter provided staff with Comcast’s new privacy policy. Following review of the policy, the MHCRC prepared a five-page letter to Comcast requesting further detail on its efforts to protect subscribers’ personal information and to justify its privacy policy against federal law and local franchise language. The MHCRC continues to monitor Comcast’s adherence to local, state and federal privacy laws and is actively pursuing options to help protect subscriber privacy.

Comcast – Franchise Fee Payments (2003)
The MHCRC pursued regulatory and legal processes to ensure correct accounting for franchise fee payments under the franchises. After Comcast refused several written requests for quarterly reports of cable modem revenue, the MHCRC, relying on the information-gathering authority under the franchise, proposed Order 2001-09 which established a format for quarterly reports of cable modem fee revenue and directed Comcast to provide reports in the format specified. Comcast complied with the Order.

Related Document:

Comcast – Performance and Construction Bonds (2003)
The MHCRC initiated a process for securing current performance and construction bonds from Comcast in accordance with the Franchises. MHCRC staff identified the franchise requirement and missing documentation and, with legal counsel oversight, worked with the company to bring this franchise obligation into compliance.

AT&T Failure to Meet Cable Customer Service Standards (2001-2002)
The Mt. Hood Cable Regulatory Commission completed two separate actions assessing $300,000 in fines against AT&T Broadband for failing to comply with cable customer telephone answering standards. The company waived its right to a formal hearing to contest the determination.

Related Documents: