While cable subscribership overall has continued to decline, franchise fee revenues have not dropped as precipitously due to increased cable TV rates. Franchise fees for the MHCRC jurisdictions have totaled $83,279,421 over the last 10 years showing that it is a substantial revenue resource for MHCRC members. Franchise fees can be utilized for any purpose and provide the MHCRC member jurisdictions with general fund support (which is an important resource at this time because of the drop in tax and fee-based revenues due to the pandemic). Also, while both Open Signal and MetroEast have made strides in developing alternative revenue resources, the lions’ share of their operations is still funded, either directly or indirectly, through the cable franchise fees.
It is important to note that this franchise fee compensation is based on only a percentage of gross revenues for the video services portion of the services cable companies provide over their infrastructure. This infrastructure utilizes thousands of miles of public right-of-way throughout Multnomah County. Under Federal law, local governments do not receive any compensation for use of their public right of way by cable companies to deliver their profitable Internet service. Accordingly, franchise fees are a distinct benefit of local cable services franchises.