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(a) A transfer of a franchise, or a transfer of an interest in a franchisee that results in a change in ownership interest of a franchise of 5 percent or more, must not occur without prior approval by the County. However, a transfer of an interest to a person who already holds an ownership interest of 25 percent or more does not require prior County approval if transfer of a franchise does not occur. A transfer of a franchise will not be approved by the County when the transferor has held the franchise less than 3 years unless the County finds that the transfer is necessary and in the best interests of the County and its residents.
(b) An application to transfer a franchise must meet the requirements of Section 8A-8(b) and provide complete information on the proposed transaction, including the legal, character, financial, technical, and other pertinent qualifications of the transferee, and on the potential impact of the transfer on subscriber services or rates. The proposed transferee must provide all information required in Section 8A-8(d)(1) through (3), (10), and (12). The information required in Section 8A-8(d)(4) through (9) must also be provided if the proposed transferee expects material changes to occur in those areas as a result of the transfer.
(c) An application for transfer of an interest in a franchisee must describe the proposed transaction in detail and identify the interest to be transferred, the transferor, and transferee. If the proposed transferee is not a current equity owner of the franchisee, the application must include the information required by Section 8A-8(d)(1) and (2).
(d) An application for a transfer must provide all documents and information related to the transaction and to the financial position of the cable system before and after the proposed transaction.
(e) A public hearing must be held on an application for transfer of an interest in a franchisee of 25 percent or more.
(f) Before approving transfer of a franchise, the County must consider the legal, financial, technical and character qualifications of the transferee to operate the system, and whether operation by the proposed franchisee will adversely affect the cable services to subscribers or otherwise be contrary to the public interest. Before approving a transfer of an interest in a franchisee, the County must consider whether the transferee's interest will have any effect on the franchisee's operation of the system, the franchisee's qualifications, or the public interest.
(g) The Council must take final action on an application for transfer of a franchise after receiving recommendation from the County Executive. The County Executive may take final action on an application for transfer of an interest.
(h) Approval by the County of a transfer of a franchise does not constitute a waiver or release of any of the rights of the County under this Chapter or the franchise agreement, arising before or after the date of the transfer. A transfer does not waive or release any non-performance that occurred before the transfer. All previous non-performance becomes the responsibility of the new franchisee unless the County otherwise agrees.
(i) The County may impose a grant fee to cover its costs in excess of the filing fee in considering an application for transfer of a franchise, except for the transfer of any franchise granted before January 1, 1988.
(j) Any entity guaranteeing the performance of a franchisee may apply to the County for release for release of the guarantee if:
(1) The franchisee has, for 5 consecutive years, complied with the franchise agreement and this Chapter; and