The South Washington County Telecommunications Commission (SWCTC) is the cable television franchising authority for the Minnesota cities of Cottage Grove, Newport, St. Paul Park, Woodbury, and Grey Cloud Island Township.
The member municipalities participate in accordance with a Joint Powers Agreement. This agreement allows for the appointment of two voting representatives to the SWCTC from each community; one city official and one council appointee.
The franchise process started in 1981 with a series comprehensive study to determine community needs. Over a two year period the Commission conducted need-based assessment surveys, formulated cable system specifications, and issued a request for proposal to the cable industry. In late 1983 the Commission accepted a bid proposal from Telephone and Data Services (TDS) and awarded them a 15 year franchise. Cable system construction began in the spring of 1984 and TDS began offering cable service soon thereafter.
Today SWCTC manages resources received from the cable operator on behalf of its member cities and township. Comcast and CenturyLink are the cable operators in south Washington County.
The Joint Powers Agreement delegates to the Commission all responsibilities for enforcement of the franchise, regulation of basic cable rates, coordination of transfers of ownerships and franchise renewals. The Commission requires a performance bond, letter of credit, liability insurance and other security from the cable operator to protect cities from provider caused damages.
It requires the operator to provide reports and records to the Commission and reviews equipment and rate filings to make certain they are complying with federal standards. The Commission requires the carriage of local emergency alerts, oversees the use and construction of the Institutional Network and interconnection requirements, and oversees construction standards to protect and manage the public right-of-way. It conducts compliance inspections, technical audits of the cable system and sets and enforces customer service standards and protection of privacy rights.
The SWCTC employs a full- time Administrator, a full-time Master Control Specialist, four full-time Government Producers, and three part-time Cablecasters. The Commission staff operates four local cable access channels that are seen in over 20,000 cable viewing homes in South Washington County.