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MetroCast’s fees go up 5% each year while quality languishes

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

I would like to comment on the recent article regarding the new 10 year "monopoly" contract with MetroCast by all the local towns in the area. This is in addition to the letter to the editor by the gentleman from Gilford who also wrote regarding the same contract — to which I agree.

My major analysis of MetroCast over the last 10 years are that they annually increase their fees by a minimum of 5 percent a year, constantly move and eliminate channels and basically offer very little in quality improvements. They support their price increases based on their cost increases for programming which includes free broadcast stations, extended cable stations that are increasing their commercial content to the level of on-the-air stations and corporate bundlers who force useless channels as part of a package.

I realize that some of this is true, but where is the push-back by the cable operators and the towns? Are not these providers getting huge revenues from all the commercials they sell to advertisers and then expect us to pay higher and higher cable fees to watch these commercials? Talk about double-dipping. It was bad enough watching all those commercials when we used antennas, but at least the programming was "free."

My understanding is that the city of Laconia has some latitude in negotiating the contract, but customer pricing is not one of them. So they negotiate primarily to get the best possible franchise fee. How about getting the cable company to offer better packages? I suggested a few years ago to offer a video and internet only package? They only offer packages that include VOIP added in or overpriced premium channels.

How about packages like the satellite companies offer with less channels for less money since most of us only watch less than 10 channels anyways? How about improving the quality so that when we watch important events we do not get drop-outs and audio failure even in good weather? How about reducing redundant stations that broadcast the same thing on three different channels? How about getting different programming on PBS Channels 2 and 11 so I can watch the "Nightly Business Report" and "This Old House" like I used to get two years ago or as you call it "two price increases ago"? How about getting a decent TV Guide channel that doesn't take 10 minutes to find out what's on and is used for 50 percent advertising?

I have called and written on these issues in the past, but monopolies very seldom listen to and take action to the end-user.

If I didn't get my point across, how about the fact that technology is changing and if cable companies do not get their act together and keep increasing prices every year well beyond the rate of inflation, the paradigm is going to shift and soon we may all have a better and cheaper solution.

I can't wait. But in the meantime, I think the city and towns can do a lot more, especially if the customer base speaks up and demands value and better options.

Robert Richard