Frequently Asked Questions: Cable Television

How is the City involved with cable television?

What choices do I have for cable television?

Why isn't there more competition?

Since there is limited competition why aren't subscription prices regulated?

Can the City insist that the cable television companies carry all of the channels and programming that is available to them?

What are Community Access Organizations?

How is the City involved with cable television?
Cable television companies must obtain franchises from the City in order to operate. The cable television franchise contracts allow the companies to run cable under and over the City's streets to provide television service to homes and businesses. The contracts also provide consumer protections.
Cable television consumer information

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What choices do I have for cable television?
There are currently three franchised cable television providers: Time Warner Cable, Cablevision and Verizon. Time Warner Cable provides service in Staten Island, Manhattan, Queens and part of Brooklyn. Cablevision provides service in part of Brooklyn and all of the Bronx. Verizon was granted a five borough franchise in 2008 and is building out its system. Verizon does currently provide service in parts of all five boroughs. RCN, which does not have a cable television franchise but does have a contract with the City to provide television services as an open video system operates in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn.
Open Video System Frequently Asked Questions

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Why isn't there more competition?
The cost of building and maintaining a cable television system throughout the streets and neighborhoods of all five boroughs is quite substantial. When Verizon has completed building its system there will be competition in every part of the City.

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Since there is limited competition why aren't subscription prices regulated?
Federal law currently prohibits the City from including in its cable television franchise agreements any caps or limits on the rates that cable companies can charge for their products and services.

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Can the City insist that the cable television companies carry all of the channels and programming that is available to them?
Federal law also bans cities from mandating that cable operators agree to carry specific programs or channels. The only exception to the federal ban on content regulation is that cities do have the right to require that some channels be set aside by the cable companies for public, educational and government channels. The public access channels are administered in New York City by Community Access Organizations and the educational and government channels are administered by the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment.
Visit the NYC Media - Television page

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What are Community Access Organizations?
The Community Access Organizations are nonprofit entities, designated by the borough presidents in each borough to manage that borough's public access studios and channels. If you are interested in learning more about the public access channels in your borough and the Community Access Organizations that run them you may click on the following links:

Manhattan - Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN)

Brooklyn - Brooklyn Community Access Television (BCAT)

Queen - Queens Public Television (QPTV)

Staten Island - Staten Island Community Television (SICTV)

Bronx- Bronxnet Television

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