The Wisconsin public service commission (PSC) regulates telecommunications service providers to the extent provided under chapter 196, Stats. The department of financial institutions (DFI) and local municipalities regulate video service providers to the extent provided in ch. 66, Stats.
2007 Wisconsin Act 42 changed the way that Wisconsin regulates cable television and other video services. The act provided for state, rather than local, franchising of video service providers. The act also changed prior definitions, and added a new definition of “video services." This rule incorporates new statutory definitions, in order to maintain the coverage of current rules.
Rule background
Current DATCP rules regulate unfair sales and billing practices related to telecommunications, cable television and satellite television provided to consumers on a subscription basis. The current rules do all of the following:
  Require providers to disclose subscription terms and conditions.
  Prohibit billing for unordered services.
  Prohibit the imposition of price increases without prior notice and opportunity to cancel.
  Prohibit unfair “negative option" billing practices.
Since DATCP adopted the current rules, business practices and technology have changed. For example, video services can now be delivered over telephone lines. Providers now offer “bundled" service packages that may include local telephone, long-distance telephone, wireless telephone, video, internet and other services. Consumers may receive a number of these services on one electronic device, and may receive one bill for all of the “bundled" services.
This rule updates current rule coverage to ensure that protection is afforded to video service consumers on an equal basis, regardless of the technology or method used to deliver the service. This rule does not make major changes in rule content, but does make minor content adjustments to address new service delivery methods and “bundling" practices.
Plain language analysis
This rule does all of the following:
  Retitles ch. ATCP 123 from “Telecommunications and Cable Television Services" to “Electronic Communication Services."
  Defines “electronic communication service" to include telecommunications service, video service, broadband internet service and satellite television service provided on to consumers on a subscription basis. “Electronic communication service" also includes any good or service that a subscriber is required to purchase from the service provider in order to obtain the electronic communication service.
  Defines “video programming" and “video service," consistent with current statutes.
  Changes “telecommunications service or cable television service" where it appears in the main body of the rule to “electronic communication service."
  Changes other words in the rule text to reflect recent statutory definition changes (2007 Wisconsin Act 42).
Comparison with federal regulations
Congress and the federal communications commission have significantly reduced federal regulation of telecommunications service and video services. The federal government has left, to state governments, much of the responsibility for regulating the business practices of service providers.
Comparison with rules of adjacent states
No surrounding states regulate the subscription and billing practices of telecommunication and video service providers in a manner similar to Wisconsin. The surrounding states approach the regulation of this industry by focusing on specific trade practices, such as the unauthorized switching of long-distance services or consumer protection for users of coin-operated phones. Wisconsin is the only state that has comprehensive regulation providing standards for subscription and billing practices that apply equally to all competing providers.
Summary of factual data and analytical methodologies
This rule does not depend on any complex analysis of data. This rule merely updates current rules to address changes in business practices and technology, and to incorporate new definitions created under 2007 Wisconsin ACT 42.
Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis
This rule will have few, if any, negative impacts on business. This rule simply updates the definitions and coverage of current rules to prevent the erosion of current consumer protection regulations. Some video service providers now use new electronic delivery methods that are not covered by current rules. This rule applies existing consumer protection standards to those new delivery methods, so that consumers will continue to enjoy protection. This rule will help maintain fair competition between video service providers, regardless of the delivery method used. None of the video service providers using the new electronic delivery methods are small businesses.
Fiscal Estimate
This rule will have no significant fiscal impact on DATCP or local units of government.
Notice of Hearing
Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) announces that it will hold a public hearing on rules creating subch. IV of ch. ATCP 161, relating to the “buy local" grant program created under s. 93.48, Stats. DATCP adopted a temporary emergency rule effective February 22, 2008, and is also proposing a “permanent" rule. The hearing will cover the “emergency" rule as well as the proposed “permanent" rule.
Hearing Information
May 30, 2008
1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
WI Dept. of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection
2811 Agriculture Drive – Board Room, 1st Floor
Madison, WI 53704
Hearing impaired persons may request an interpreter for these hearings. Please make reservations for a hearing interpreter by May 23, by writing to Shirley Schultz, Division of Agricultural Market Development, P.O. Box 8911, Madison, WI 53708-8911,, telephone (608) 224-5129. Alternatively, you may contact the DATCP TDD at (608) 224-5058. Handicap access is available at the hearings.
Submission of Written Comments
DATCP will hold the public hearing at the time and location shown above. DATCP invites the public to attend the hearing and comment on the rules. Following the hearing, the hearing record will remain open until Wednesday, June 11, 2008 for additional written comments. Comments may be sent to the Division of Agricultural Development at the address below, by email to or online:
To provide comments or concerns relating to small business, you may also contact DATCP's small business regulatory coordinator Keeley Moll at the address above, or by emailing to or by telephone at (608) 224-5039.
Copies of Proposed Rule
You may obtain free copies of the temporary “emergency" rule and proposed “permanent" rule by contacting the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Division of Agricultural Market Development, 2811 Agriculture Drive, P.O. Box 8911, Madison, WI 53708. You may also obtain copies by calling (608) 224-5017 or emailing Copies will also be available at the hearing. To view the proposed rule online, go to:
Agency Contact
Questions and comments related to this rule may be directed to:
Amy Bruner Zimmerman
Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection
P.O. Box 8911
Madison, WI 53708-8911
Telephone (608) 224-5017
Analysis Prepared by Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection
This rule implements the “buy local" grant program created under s. 93.48, Stats., by 2007 Wisconsin Act 20 (biennial budget act). Under s. 93.48, Stats., the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (“DATCP") is authorized to award grants for projects designed to increase local purchases of Wisconsin agricultural products. The budget act appropriated $225,000 for this grant program in the FY 2007-09 fiscal biennium.
This rule does all of the following:
  Authorizes DATCP to make grant awards and distribute grant funds appropriated for the “buy local" grant program.
  Spells out the procedures and criteria that DATCP will use to evaluate grant proposals, make grant awards and distribute grant payments.
  Spells out the purposes for which grant funds may be used, subject to the terms of the grant contract.
This rule is identical to the temporary emergency rule that DATCP adopted effective February 22, 2008, except for one minor difference noted below.
Statutes interpreted
Section 93.48, Stats., and section 9103 (3i) of 2007 Wisconsin Act 20 (biennial budget act).
Statutory authority
Sections 93.48 (1) and 93.07 (1), Stats., and section 9103 (3i) of 2007 Wisconsin Act 20 (biennial budget act).
Explanation of agency authority
DATCP has general authority under s. 93.07 (1), Stats., to interpret laws under its jurisdiction. Section 93.48 (1), Stats., specifically requires DATCP to adopt rules for the “buy local" grant program.
Related rules or statutes
There are no directly related rules or statutes, other than those cited above. DATCP rules for the “buy local" grant program will be incorporated as a subchapter of ch. ATCP 161, Wis. Adm. Code (agricultural development and market promotion).
Rule content
The “buy local" grant program is designed to increase local sales of Wisconsin agricultural products. The biennial budget act appropriated $225,000 in grant funding for the FY 2007-09 fiscal biennium. This rule spells out grant procedures and criteria. Under this rule, the “buy local" grant program will focus mainly on food products, rather than other agricultural products such as timber, feed, fiber or nursery products (it may incidentally benefit those other products).
Grant Purposes
Under this rule, DATCP may award grants for projects that are designed to increase the sale of Wisconsin food products to local purchasers. For example, DATCP may award grants for projects to create, expand, diversify or promote any of the following:
  Local food marketing systems and market outlets.
  Local food and cultural tourism trails.
  Production, processing, marketing and distribution of Wisconsin food products for sale to local purchasers.
Grant Limits
Under this rule, no individual grant award may exceed $50,000. DATCP may not make more than one grant award to the same person in the same state fiscal biennium. Once DATCP makes a grant award, DATCP may make the actual grant payments over a contract period of up to 2 years. DATCP may extend the contract term for up to one additional year upon request.
Matching Requirement
To qualify for a grant under this rule, a grant recipient must make a matching commitment equal to at least 33% of the grant amount. A matching commitment may include a commitment of capital, land, labor, equipment or cash related to the grant project. Under this rule, matching funds may include grant funds received from sources other than DATCP (this is a change from the temporary “emergency" rule that took effect on February 22, 2008).
Use of Grant Funds
Under this rule, grant funds may be used to reimburse any of the following expenses if those expenses are a reasonable and necessary part of the grant project:
  Operating expenses, including expenses for salaries and wages, contract and consulting services, travel, supplies and public information.
  Real estate and equipment rental.
  The purchase of equipment whose full value is ordinarily depreciable within one year.
  Reasonable depreciation expense incurred, for capital equipment, during the term of the grant contract.
Grant funds may not reimburse any of the following expenses:
  Real estate purchases.
  Repayment of loans or mortgages.
  Rent or contract payments for time periods extending beyond the term of the grant contract.
  Equipment purchases, except for certain equipment purchases and depreciation expenses specifically authorized by this rule.
  Administrative or overhead costs that are not direct costs of the grant project.
Links to Admin. Code and Statutes in this Register are to current versions, which may not be the version that was referred to in the original published document.