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Volume 1 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 71

Opinions of Counsel index

Special franchise (cable television company) - Real Property Tax Law, § 600:

Where a cable television company maintains property in the public way it is subject to a special franchise assessment even though the locality in which it is located has not granted a franchise to such company.

This inquiry concerns the assessment of tangible property of a cable television company located in public places as special franchise property.

Apparently no franchise from the locality to operate a CATV system has been granted and such franchise cannot presently be granted because subdivision 2 of section 88 of the General Municipal Law prohibits any municipal corporation from granting such a franchise for a period of one year commencing on June 17, 1971.

The fact that no franchise has been obtained and that property might be illegally situated in public places does not affect the characterization of the property as special franchise property under the provisions of the Real Property Tax Law.

Under case law and the long practice of state agencies which have administered the assessment of special franchise property, the existence of a special franchise under this fact situation is implied and the owner of the property is stopped from denying that it has a franchise to maintain its property in public places. People ex. rel. United Natural Gas Co. v. Priest, 70 Misc. 69, 126 N.Y.S. 472, aff’d. 152 App. Div. 249, 136 N.Y.S. 575; Op. of Dept. of Taxation and Finance, 43 State Dept. Rep. 282 (1933).

Therefore, the CATV property located in public places is in our opinion subject to assessment by this agency as special franchise property.

March 13, 1972

NOTE: Duplicate of Opinion 1-38.