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(A) (1) Any franchise granted under this chapter shall be a privilege to be held for the benefit of the public. Any franchise so granted cannot, in any event, be sold, transferred, leased, assigned or disposed of, including, but not limited to, by forced or voluntary sale, except to the entity controlling, controlled by or under common control with the grantee, without the prior written consent of the franchising authority.
(2) Such consent as required by the franchising authority shall be given or denied no later than 120 days following any request and shall not be unreasonably withheld.
(3) Prior consent shall not be required when transferring the franchise between wholly owned subsidiaries of the same entity, nor shall such consent be required for a transfer in trust, by mortgage, by other hypothecation or assignment of any rights, title or interest of the grantee in the cable system in order to secure indebtedness.
(B) If the grantee sells or otherwise transfers ownership in the cable system, such sale or transfer shall conform to § 617 of the Cable Act. For the purpose of determining whether it shall consent to such change, transfer or acquisition of control, the franchising authority may inquire into the qualifications of the prospective controlling party, and the grantee shall assist the franchising authority in any such inquiry. In seeking the grantee’s consent to any change in ownership or control, the transferee shall have the responsibility to:
(1) Show to the satisfaction of the franchising authority whether the proposed purchaser, transferee or assignee (referred to as the “proposed transferee”) which, in the case of a corporation, shall include all directors and all persons having a legal or equitable interest of 50% or more of the voting stock, has:
(a) Ever been convicted or held liable for acts involving moral turpitude, including, but not limited to, any violation of federal, state or local law or regulations or is presently under an indictment, investigation or complaint charging such acts;
(b) Ever had a judgment in an action for fraud, deceit or misrepresentation entered against it, her, him or them by any court of competent jurisdiction; or
(c) Pending any legal claim, lawsuit or administrative proceeding arising out of or involving a cable system. The franchising authority retains the right to withhold approval of the transfer until the transferee has provided the information required in this division (B)(1).
(2) Establish, to the satisfaction of the franchising authority, the financial solvency of the proposed transferee by submitting all current financial data for the proposed transferee which the grantee was required to submit in its franchise application, and such other data as the franchising authority may request, where such shall be audited, certified and qualified by a certified public accountant; and
(3) Establish to the satisfaction of the franchising authority any technical capability of the proposed transferee is such as shall enable it to maintain and operate the cable system for the remaining term of the franchise under the existing franchise terms.
(C) (1) Any financial institution having a pledge of the franchise or its assets for the advancement of money for the construction and/or operation of the franchise shall have the right to notify the franchising authority that the financial institution or its designee, as approved in writing by the franchising authority, shall take control and operate the cable system if the grantee defaults in its financial obligations.
(2) Further, such financial institution shall also submit a plan for such operation that will ensure continued service and compliance with all franchise requirements during the term the financial institution exercises control over the system. The financial institution shall not exercise control over the cable system for a period exceeding one year, unless extended by the franchising authority at its discretion, but, during such period of time, it shall have the right to petition the franchising authority to transfer the franchise to another grantee.
(3) Except insofar as the enforceability of this division (C) may be limited by applicable bankruptcy, insolvency, reorganization, moratorium or similar laws affecting creditors’ rights generally, and further subject to applicable federal, state or local law, if the franchising authority finds that such transfer, after considering the legal, financial and technical qualities of the proposed transferee, is satisfactory, the franchising authority shall transfer and assign the right and obligations of such franchise as in the public interest.
(D) The consent or approval of the franchising authority to any transfer by the grantee shall not constitute a waiver or release of the rights of the franchising authority in and to the streets, and any transfer shall, by its terms, be expressly subject to the terms and conditions of any franchise.
(E) In no event shall a transfer of ownership or control be approved without the successor in interest becoming a signatory of the franchise agreement.
(F) The franchising authority may approve the transfer or deny the transfer pursuant to § 617 of the Cable Act.
(G) When the grantor approves a transfer under this section, the new grantee shall indicate acceptance of the franchise as specified in § 114.025 of this chapter, including the filing of all necessary bonds, funds, proofs of insurance and certifications.
(H) The restrictions of this section shall be effective immediately upon execution of a franchise agreement.
(2013 Code, § 8-5.5) (Ord. 14586, passed 4-13-1998)