|Case Forum:||United States District Court (Eastern District)|
|Keywords:||franchise, cable, Michigan Constitution, public comment, pre-emption, federal Cable Act, PEG channel requirements|
Michael J. Watza | Kitch Drutchas Wagner Valitutti & Sherbrook |
1. Michigan Townships Association (MTA)
Amicus counsel argues that the cable franchise between the city of Detroit and Comcast is unenforceable because the Federal Cable Act preempts the State Act as applied by Comcast, and the State Act violates the Michigan Constitution. The State Act is inconsistent with the Cable Act, therefore preventing municipalities from complying with it. First, the State Act makes the city, not the State as Comcast suggests, the franchising authority. Second, the State Act circumvents the Cable Act’s renewal process, which requires a franchising authority to ensure that the franchise renewal meets the ever-changing needs of the community by way of public comment, because the State Act allows those comments to be disregarded. Third, the State Act prevents the City from fulfilling it’s obligation under the Cable Act to assure that redlining does not occur because the State Act allows for redlining if certain “defenses” are satisfied, which then renders the City powerless to stop even intentional redlining. Fourth, the Cable Act authorizes the City to enforce PEG channel requirements, but the State Act denies this to the authority. In regard to the Michigan Constitution, the State Act violates Michigan’s Constitution because, as seen in Article 7, Section 29, it ensures that local governments retain the authority to consent to franchise, not the State legislature. However, as applied by Comcast, the State Act allows the State to franchise and consent decisions by allowing the PSC to create uniform franchise agreements, which leaves local governments the option of approving those agreements, or having their consent compelled upon inaction.
The Court finds that it does not have subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate the City’s claims that the customer service, anti-discrimination , universal build-out, and safe harbor provisions
|MSC requested LDF amicus brief?||No|