Maine Revised Statutes

§3010. Consumer rights and protection relating to cable television service

This section applies to every franchisee. For purposes of this section, "franchisee" means a cable system operator that is granted a franchise by a municipality in accordance with section 3008. For purposes of this section, "cable system operator" and "cable television service" have the same meanings as in section 3008. [2007, c. 548, §2 (AMD).]

1. Credits and refunds for interruption of service.  Credits and refunds for interruption of cable television service of a franchisee must be as follows.
A. In the event service to any subscriber is interrupted for 6 or more consecutive hours in a 30-day period, the franchisee will, upon request, grant that subscriber a pro rata credit or rebate. [2007, c. 548, §2 (AMD).]
B. An office of the franchisee must be open during usual business hours, have a listed toll-free telephone and be capable of receiving complaints, requests for adjustments and service calls. [2007, c. 548, §2 (AMD).]
C. The franchisee shall provide subscribers with 30 days' advance written notice of an increase in rates, changes in billing practices or the deletion of a channel. [2007, c. 548, §2 (AMD).]
[ 2007, c. 548, §2 (AMD) .]
1-A. Service disconnection.  A franchisee must discontinue billing a subscriber for a service within 10 working days after the subscriber requests that service disconnection unless the subscriber unreasonably hinders access by the franchisee to equipment of the franchisee on the premises of the subscriber to which the franchisee must have access to complete the requested disconnection.
[ 2007, c. 548, §2 (AMD) .]
2. Notice to subscribers regarding quality of service.  Notice to subscribers regarding quality of service must be as follows.
A. For each new subscriber, and annually thereafter, every franchisee shall cause to be mailed to each of its subscribers a notice that:
(1) Informs subscribers of how to communicate their views and complaints to the cable system operator, the proper municipal official and the Attorney General;
(2) States the responsibility of the Department of the Attorney General to receive consumer complaints concerning matters other than channel selection and rates;
(3) States the policy regarding and method by which subscribers may request rebates or pro rata credits as described in subsection 1, paragraph A; and
(4) Informs subscribers of their right to request basic-tier, nonpremium programming service and the cost of that service. [2007, c. 548, §2 (AMD).]
B. The notice must be in nontechnical language, understandable by the general public and in a convenient format. On or before January 30th of each year, the franchisee shall certify to the franchising authority and to the Department of the Attorney General that it has distributed the notice during the previous calendar year as required by this section. [2007, c. 548, §2 (AMD).]
[ 2007, c. 548, §2 (AMD) .]
2-A. Notice on subscriber bills; credits and refunds.   Every franchisee shall include on each subscriber bill for service a notice regarding the subscriber's right to a pro rata credit or rebate for interruption of service upon request in accordance with subsection 1. The notice must include a toll-free telephone number and a telephone number accessible by a teletypewriter device or TTY for contacting the franchisee to request the pro rata credit or rebate for service interruption. The notice must be in nontechnical language, understandable by the general public and printed in a prominent location on the bill in boldface type.
[ 2007, c. 104, §1 (NEW) .]
3. Franchise document clearinghouse.
[ 1999, c. 581, §2 (RP) .]
4. Recording subscriber complaints.  Recording subscriber complaints must be as follows.
A. Every franchisee shall keep a record or log of all written complaints received regarding quality of service, equipment malfunctions, billing procedure, employee attitude and similar matters. These records must be maintained for a period of 2 years. [2007, c. 548, §2 (AMD).]
B. The record must contain the following information for each complaint received:
(1) Date, time and nature of the complaint;
(2) Name, address and telephone number of the person complaining;
(3) Investigation of the complaint;
(4) Manner and time of resolution of the complaint;
(5) If the complaint regards equipment malfunction or the quality of reception, a report indicating corrective steps taken, with the nature of the problem stated; and
(6) Consistent with subscriber privacy provisions contained in the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984, Public Law 98-549, every franchisee shall make the logs or records of complaints available to any authorized agent of any franchising authority having a franchise with that franchisee or any authorized agent of a municipality considering a franchise with that franchisee upon request during normal business hours for on-site review. [2007, c. 548, §2 (AMD).]
[ 2007, c. 548, §2 (AMD) .]
5. Franchises.  All franchises must be nonexclusive. All franchises must include provision for access to, and facilities to make use of, one or more local public, educational and governmental access channels subject to the definitions and requirements of the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984, Public Law 98-549 or related requirements or regulations of the Federal Communications Commission.
[ 2007, c. 548, §2 (AMD) .]
6. Rights of individuals.  A cable system operator may not deny service, deny access or otherwise discriminate against subscribers, channel users or general citizens on the basis of age, race, religion, sex, physical handicap or country of natural origin.
[ 2007, c. 548, §2 (AMD) .]
6-A. Subscriber privacy.  A cable system operator may not intrude upon the privacy of a subscriber by installing or using any equipment that allows the cable system operator to observe or to listen to what is occurring in an individual subscriber's household or to monitor the viewing habits of the subscriber without express, prior written consent of the subscriber. A cable system operator may not sell, disclose or otherwise make available, or permit the use of, lists of the names or addresses of its subscribers, or any list or other information that identifies by name or address subscribers or subscriber viewing habits, to any person or agency for any purpose whatsoever without the prior written consent of the subscriber except that the cable system operator may make such lists available to persons performing services for the cable system operator in connection with its business or operations, such as a billing service, when the availability of such lists is necessary to the performance of such services if, in either case, the persons or entity receiving such lists agree in writing that they will not permit them to be made available to any other party.
[ 2007, c. 548, §2 (AMD) .]
6-B. Late fees.  A cable system operator may not charge a late fee or other penalty or charge for late payment of any bill that exceeds 1.5% per month of the amount due in the bill. If the bill includes separate charges for different levels of service, a late fee or other penalty or charge must be calculated on the total amount overdue for all levels of service and may not be calculated separately for each level of service. A payment is not late under this subsection until at least 30 days after those services to which the late fee applies have been received by the consumer.
[ 2007, c. 548, §2 (AMD) .]
7. Penalty.  A violation of any provision of this section is a violation of Title 5, chapter 10.
[ 2007, c. 548, §2 (AMD) .]
8. Filing of franchise agreements.  A cable system operator that maintains a publicly accessible website shall post on that website a copy of the most recently executed franchise agreement for each franchise that it has been granted by a municipality in the State.
[ 2007, c. 548, §2 (NEW) .]
SECTION HISTORY
1989, c. 352, (NEW). 1991, c. 358, (AMD). 1991, c. 657, §1 (AMD). 1993, c. 219, §1 (AMD). 1993, c. 513, §1 (AMD). 1993, c. 676, §§1,2 (AMD). 1999, c. 581, §2 (AMD). 2007, c. 104, §1 (AMD). 2007, c. 548, §2 (AMD).