§ 114.09  REGULATION OF RATES.
   (A)   Franchise fee. (See “Payment to the Town”, § 114.10 of this chapter).
   (B)   Limitations on rates. The charges made to subscribers for services of the franchisee in this chapter shall be fair and reasonable. The franchisee shall receive no consideration whatsoever from its subscribers other than in accordance with this section, without approval of the Board of Commissioners.
The franchisee shall not charge rates for basic services and for installations and disconnections in excess of the rate schedule appearing in the franchisee’s application unless approved in accordance with division (C) of this section.
   (C)   Adjustment to rates.
      (1)   Initial rates and charges for basic sources and for installation and disconnection shall be fixed in the franchise application. Thereafter, the town or the franchisee may request rate adjustments at any time. After a public hearing affording due notice to the franchisee and other interested persons, the Board of Commissioners may adjust rates. (Public hearing advertisement to be once per week in a newspaper of general circulation in the town for two weeks preceding the hearing.) The criterion to determine whether rates adjustments shall be permitted are the same as those currently set forth in G.S. Ch. 162 for rate adjustment hearings related to rate adjustments for public utilities other than motor carriers and certain water and sewer utilities. The franchisee may appeal the decision of the Board to the courts as permitted by law.
      (2)   However, the franchisee may increase or decrease its rates at any time, without prior Board approval; provided that, no increase has been made in the preceding six months and provided that the annualized rate of increase within a given 12-month period shall not exceed the average annual rate of
increase over the preceding 12 months in the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers & U.S. City Average Other Utilities and Public Services (1967-100) as Published by the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.  (In the event that at any time the United States Department of Labor begins publishing a consumer price index on the annual cost adjustments in cable television costs in particular, then that index and its base year shall be used in lieu of the index for other utilities and public services.) The franchisee shall notify the town in writing at least 90 days in advance of the effective date of any proposed rate increase within the limits set forth above. The town may then challenge the increase and schedule meetings, hearings, request additional information, or take whatever action it deems appropriate. If no such action is taken within 60 days of receipt of the original written notice by the town, then the increase will automatically take effect.
      (3)   Except as set forth in division (C)(2) of this section, rates shall not be changed without Board approval, except that nothing in this provision shall prohibit the reduction or waiving of charges in conjunction with promotional campaign for the purpose of attracting subscribers.
   (D)   Refunds to subscribers and users.
      (1)   If any subscriber terminates any monthly service during the first six months of the service because of failure of a franchisee to render the service offered, the franchisee shall refund to such subscriber an amount equal to all charges paid by the subscriber during the period in which no service was received.
      (2)   If any subscriber terminates for any reason any monthly service prior to the end of a prepaid period, a pro rata portion of any prepaid subscriber service fee shall be refunded to the subscriber by the franchisee using the number of months as the basis.
   (E)   Advance charges and deposits. A franchisee may require subscribers to pay the installation charge in advance and to pay for each month of basic service in advance at the beginning of each month. No other advance payment or deposit of any kind shall be required by a franchisee for basic subscriber service. Other than for a converter, nothing in this provision shall be construed to prohibit charges for or waiver for charges for initial installation or reconnection.
   (F)   Installation and reconnection. Except as otherwise provided elsewhere in this chapter, a franchisee may make a charge to subscribers for the installation of service outlets and for the reconnection of service outlets. The rates for such connection or reconnection shall be as authorized in the rate schedule.
   (G)   Other governmental regulation of rates. If in the future, the state or the United States government or any regulatory agency thereof regulates the rates of the franchisee for the service provided for in the franchise, this section shall be of no effect during such regulation to the extent of any conflict therewith.
   (H)   Public service installation. The franchisee shall without charge for installation, maintenance or service make single installations of its standard CATV service facilities to those public buildings operated by town and county when the building is located on the franchisee’s system when the system is constructed consistent with the requirements of this chapter. Such installations shall be made at such reasonable locations as shall be requested by the Mayor. Any charge for relocation of such installation shall, however, be charged at the actual cost. Additional installations at the same location may be made at the actual cost. No monthly service charges shall be made for distribution of the franchisee’s basic service, including access channels within the publicly-owned buildings.
   (I)   Charges for public access. Charges to users of the franchisee’s production facilities for public access programming shall not exceed actual costs incurred. The charges shall be publicly posted and made available at no cost to anyone upon request. Charges shall be clearly and completely stated in the operating rules for public access programming. The charges may be amended only upon approval by the Board of Commissioners. The franchisee shall furnish standard playback facilities and labor at actual cost incurred for the public access channel.
(Prior Code, § 114.09)  (Ord. passed 11-12-1981)