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(a) Established. The Cable Compliance Commission is established to adjudicate subscriber complaints involving customer cable service and other consumer protection claims that arise under this Chapter, any regulation adopted or franchise agreement approved under this Chapter, or Section 11-4A.
(b) Membership. The Commission is comprised of 5 voting members appointed by the County Executive and confirmed by the County Council. Each appointee must be appointed to a 3-year term. The Commission should include:
(1) a cable television service subscriber;
(2) a broadband Internet service subscriber;
(3) an individual with general business experience; and
(4) an individual with technical experience in communications.
(c) Officers. The Commissioners annually must elect a chair and vice chair of the Commission. An individual must not serve more than 2 consecutive terms as chair.
(e) Ethics. Each member of the Commission is subject to Chapter 19A.
(f) Authority. The Commission may:
(1) Require a franchisee to provide a refund to a complainant.
(2) Appoint a qualified person to mediate a case if the complainant and respondent agree to binding or non-binding mediation. A consent order resulting from mediation and approved by the Commission is an order of the Commission. If the mediator or the Commission finds that the parties are not likely to agree to a mediated consent order within a reasonable time, the Commission must decide the case.
(3) Order a franchisee to pay damages of up to $1,000 to a person injured or aggrieved by the franchisee’s actions. This limit applies separately to each violation.
(g) Hearing Procedures.
(1) The Administrative Procedures Act (Article II of Chapter 2A) applies to a complaint filed with the Commission and governs the Commission’s hearings and decisions, unless otherwise expressly provided in this Chapter. The Commission may issue procedural rules under method (2) to implement this subsection.
(2) Before filing a complaint with the Commission, a complainant must file the complaint with the county cable administrator. If the cable administrator is unable to resolve the complaint to the complainant’s satisfaction within 30 days, the complainant may file the complaint with the Commission.
(3) If the Commission decides to conduct a public hearing on the complaint, the Commission must notify the complainant, the franchisee, the county cable administrator or the County’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), and any other person that Commission rules require to be notified. Except as provided in Section 2A-9, the notice must be sent at least 15 days before the hearing. The Commission may hold a hearing at the request of any party to the complaint (which may include the cable administrator or CIO) or on the Commission’s own initiative, or may decide a complaint without a hearing.
(h) Legal representation. The County Attorney must provide legal advice and representation to the Commission and must enforce any Commission order. The County Attorney may represent the interests of the County in any proceeding before the Commission, consistent with policies established by the Council.
(i) Conflicting subscriber agreement. Any provision in a subscriber agreement, whether written or oral, that conflicts with this Chapter, a franchise agreement, or any regulation or other legal requirement is unenforceable. An unenforceable provision does not affect other provisions of the subscriber agreement that can be given effect without the unenforceable provision. “Subscriber agreement” includes any agreement that the franchisee requires a subscriber to agree to as a condition of receiving cable service or any other products and services.
(j) Fee. The Executive may issue regulations under method (3) setting a reasonable fee for filing a complaint with the Commission. The filer must pay the fee to the County when filing a complaint. The Commission, cable administrator, or CIO may waive the filing fee upon request if the fee would be a financial hardship for the complainant. If the parties agree to a consent order after mediation, the Commission may refund the filing fee. The Commission may order the losing party to pay another party’s filing fees or other reasonable expenses related to the hearing, including attorney’s fees, in addition to ordering payment of damages.
(k) Staff and other support. The Chief Administrative Officer must provide the services and County facilities that are reasonably necessary for the Commission to perform its duties. (2002 L.M.C., ch. 31 , § 1; 2005 L.M.C., ch. 14 , §§ 1, 2; 2005 L.M.C., ch. 24, § 1; 2006 L.M.C., ch. 34 , § 1; 2016 L.M.C., ch. 2 , § 1.)
Editor’s note—Section 8A-31, formerly 8A-31A, was renumbered and amended pursuant to 2006 L.M.C., ch. 34, § 1.
2006 L.M.C., ch. 34, § 3, repeals 2002 L.M.C., ch. 31, § 4, as amended by 2005 L.M.C., ch. 14, § 2, making Section 8A-31, Cable Compliance Commission, permanent..
2005 L.M.C., ch. 14, § 2, amends 2002 L.M.C., ch. 31, § 4, as follows: Expiration date. This act expires on December 31, 2008.
2002 L.M.C., ch. 31, §§ 2, 3 and 4, state:
Sec. 2. Service-level requirements for cable modem service. The County Executive must issue regulations under method (2) establishing minimum cable modem service levels that a franchisee must provide. The regulations supersede any less-stringent requirements in a franchise or subscriber agreement.
Sec. 3. Transition.
(a) This Act applies to each current or future franchise, franchisee, subscriber, or other person subject to the requirements of the County Cable Communications Act, as amended by this and any future Act, and supersedes any contrary regulation, franchise, franchise agreement, subscriber agreement, or other agreement. The complaint adjudication provisions in Chapter 8A of the Code, as amended by this Act, apply to any complaint pending on, or filed on or after, the date this Act takes effect [March 6, 2003]. Section 8A-31A(i) applies to any subscriber agreement modified or entered into after this Act becomes law [December 5, 2002].
(b) The County Executive must designate the initial term of 2 members of the Cable Compliance Commission as 2 years. Any later term of these 2 members, and the terms of all other members, must be 3 years.
Sec. 4. Expiration date. This Act expires on December 31, 2005.