Should Lubbock Join Other Texas Cities Suing Netflix, Hulu & Disney?
Under state law, "cable" providers are to pay each Texas municipality, i.e. town or city, a franchising free for using the public right-of-way, that is, infrastructure built by tax dollars. This means some streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Disney+ owe Texas towns some big money. If you're into reading Texas statutes, you can check out the entire chapter about cable franchising, but here's the really applicable part:
(a) The holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority shall pay each municipality in which it provides cable service or video service a franchise fee of five percent based upon the definition of gross revenues as set forth in this chapter. That same franchise fee structure shall apply to any unincorporated areas that are annexed by a municipality after the effective date of the state-issued certificate of franchise authority. (b) The franchise fee payable under this section is to be paid quarterly, within 45 days after the end of the quarter for the preceding calendar quarter.
So not only do these services owe Texas cities and town money, they are deeply in arrears. Twenty-five Texas cities have joined a lawsuit to sue for what must be an astronomical amount of money, with unpaid franchising fees going back to 2007. In addition to Austin, Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth, these cities are suing as well:
Abilene, Allen, Amarillo, Arlington, Beaumont, Carrollton, Denton, Frisco, Garland, Grand Prairie, Irving, Lewisville, McKinney, Mesquite, Nacogdoches, Pearland, Plano, Rowlett, Sugar Land, Tyler and Waco.
Why is Lubbock not on this list when Amarillo is?
Think of the math on this: Houston has a population of 2.4 million people. Even if only a modest fraction of Houstonites had streaming services since 2007, 5% of the total paid for those services must be several million dollars. Lubbock can't even keep pools open, why are we not getting what should have been paid to us? Our tax dollars built the infrastructure that these streaming services have used freely.
It's also an issue of fairness. Other companies have been paying this fee- traditional cable, for example. Cable may be headed out, but plenty of folks still prefer it, why should the competition get an unfair advantage?
In order to get what you deserve in this life, you simply have to stand up for yourself. Lubbock, stand up.