For at least the second time within a year, the local cable television provider, Mediacom, has announced an adjustment in rates, including a new charge to its customers.
Again, they have cited the cost of paying programmers for the necessity to increase the rates.
Clinton County Judge/Executive Lyle Huff, in a letter dated March 29, was informed of the changes and the company gave a detailed reasoning behind the need to change a couple of rates.
The following is the letter in its entirety, from Lee Grassley, Senior Manager, Government Relations with Mediacom Communications:
“The purpose of this letter is to inform you that, on or about May 1, 2013, Mediacom will be implementing the following rate adjustments:
* Local Broadcast Station Surcharge (a new charge), $1.71; and, Family Cable from $69.95 to $71.95. The surcharge and $2 increase on family cable will mean an extra $3.71 per month for most Mediacom customers.
“The decision to make price adjustments is always a difficult one, especially as our nation continues to recover from a lengthy recession. Contrary to public perception, we are very reluctant to raise video prices because when we do, we lose subscribers. However, cable and satellite companies are constantly being pressured by the programmers we buy from to pay more for the channels we carry. Mediacom is no exception as our overall programming costs rose by over 12 percent in the past year. In fact, every penny of this increase will be passed on to the programmers.
The fees we pay to retransmit local broadcast stations like ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC are by far our fastest growing programming cost component. Outdated federal laws give the local broadcast stations monopoly power over network and syndicated programming within their respective market areas. Over the past few years, many broadcasters have used their monopoly powers to demand 100 percent, 200 percent and even 300 percent rate increases during contract negotiations. This has driven up cable and satellite rates and forced American consumers to pay billions of dollars for “free” over-the-air television.
“Beginning in May, Mediacom will institute a Local Broadcast Station Surcharge equal to fee increases the local broadcast stations in your market have demanded we pay to them since the start of 2012. By bringing more transparency to the unjustified fee increases being taken by local broadcast stations, we hope to draw attention of consumers and their elected representatives to this rapidly escalating problem. As the saying goes, sunlight is the best disinfectant and we hope shedding more light on this issue will force lawmakers in Washington to fix this outdated regime.
Unfortunately, local broadcasters aren’t the only programmers causing cable and satellite prices to rise. Other channel owners, especially national and regional sports networks, are insisting on huge rate increases that are driving up the cost of Family Cable. One look at the skyrocketing rights fees announced with recent deals and it is easy to see that the marketplace for live televised sports is out of control. The television rights to the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Dodgers recently sold for $3 billion and $7 billion, respectively. These are just two in a long list of examples of the unrestrained spending that has become the hallmark of the sports programming business.
Since the programming community has been unwilling to exercise even the slightest measure of self-restraint when it comes to reigning in their spending or increasing their price demands, Mediacom has taken the fight to Washington. We have asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and members of Congress to protect senior citizens, low-income households and rural residents from practices that are rendering pay television unaffordable for more and more Americans. We even started a petition asking President Obama for help (see http://www.change.org/petitions/white-house-protect-tv-viewers-from-broadcast-blackouts-and-unfair-price-increases). We invite the leaders of your community to do the same.
Despite the business challenges we face, Mediacom appreciates the opportunity to continue to serve your community’s telecommunications needs. If you have any questions, please contact me directly at (319) 395-9699 ext. 3461 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.”