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The City has invited Verizon, in person and by letters, to enter into a cable television franchise to provide cable services to the citizens of Norfolk. Verizon told us that they appreciated our taking time to invite them in and urging them to come to Norfolk and that they understood the process. They said then and continue to say that they have not concluded that they desire to apply for a franchise.
No cable television, internet or telephone provider has an exclusive contract to provide service in Norfolk. The City has consistently encouraged competition in the City.
Much of the regulation of cable companies is done by the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") and at the federal government level. FCC guidelines give the City of Norfolk the authority to regulate the rate for Basic service, the lowest available level of service when there is no competition. Currently, Norfolk does not regulate the base rate for cable service because the FCC has determined that with direct broadcast satellite providers (DirecTV and Dish Network) there is adequate competition; therefore, Cox may charge what it believes the cable-buying market will pay.
FCC regulations state that basic service must contain local broadcast stations and public-education-government channels. Any additional channels are at the sole discretion of the cable company. Except for mandating broad categories of programming such as the following:
The City has no jurisdiction over what channels are carried on the Cox system.
With utilities like electricity and water, monthly charges are based on usage and fees and are calculated at the end of a billing cycle. However, like telephone service, cable TV service has a standard basic monthly charge, usually billed a month in advance.
Under legislation enacted by the 2006 General Assembly, House Bill 568, the Virginia communications sales and use tax, also referred to as the Communications Sales tax, replaced most of the previous state and local taxes and fees on communications services, effective January 1, 2007. This tax replaced all "franchise fees" previously paid by cable TV service companies in Virginia.
As a cable TV subscriber in Norfolk, you have a right to:
If subscribers have questions or problems with cable service, they should first contact Cox to resolve the issue. Direct inquiries for Cox to: