Local Government Powerless Against Comcast, Tells Residents To Switch To Satellite

Residents in Adams County Pennsylvania are so upset with Comcast’s rate hikes that they complain to their local governments several times a week. Sadly, Comcast is the only cable provider in the area, so there’s not much the government can do. Evening Sun:

“We’re between a rock and a hard place,” Gregor said. “We could drop the franchise, but then a lot of people won’t have television.”

Comcast is a private corporation and determines its own fees and channel selection, he said.

Cumberland Township Manager Flo Ford said she’s “asked, demanded and pounded on the table” for rates to be lower, but Comcast did not change its rates.

So if Adams Countians want a change, the best they can do is switch to satellite dishes or reception towers, officials said.

That’s what Gregor is personally considering. And council members in Bendersville said they were also thinking of switching to satellite dishes.

“If we all (switched), it might have an impact,” Gregor said.

—MEGHANN MARCO

Officials frustrated with Comcast rate hikes [Evening Sun]

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  1. vr4z06gt says:

    can’t the town negotiate a group rate with the satellite provider, much the same way colleges do? Then sell it to the town residents at a lower cost?

  2. mac-phisto says:

    if they can get enough ppl to drop comcast, they will lose their monopoly rights & other companies will be able to bid on the territory…this is not necessarily by town though. the franchise region can be pretty large.

  3. mfergel says:

    I think the one thing that stops a lot of people from switching to satellite (and even digital, etc) is those stupid boxes. I don’t want a stupid box. I want to be able to change the channel on my tv, not fire up the tv, then switch to changing over to the cable box, oh wait….I want to play my PS2, now I have to go back to the tv and change to video mode, etc.

  4. homerjay says:

    Imagine if they were able to pull this off? That would be some sweet revenge. Not likely, though, mostly because of what mfergel says. Most people already have a box and are used to it but for the rest of us (namely the elderly) its a scary device.

  5. ptkdude says:

    My only advice here is to get a copy of the franchise agreement and complain about absolutely everything Comcast does that violates the agreement. Complain to Comcast and CC: the local franchise authority.

    Here’s the path I took to get a copy of the agreement for my area: I emailed my county commissioner, she forwarded my information to the Comcast Liason with the county. She called me and told me how to file an open records request.

  6. Brad2723 says:

    This is the exact problem with monopolies and cable companies in general. Hopefully they will get something like FIOS, but that still won’t eliminate the set-top box problem. The only thing to do is deregulate the cable companies and open the lines allowing competition from other cable companies. Then perhaps we will have better choices such as cable a-la-carte.

  7. Red_Eye says:

    Has anyone ever noticed that in 99% of all articles bitching about the price of something like cable or utilities they dont bother to post the friggin price? I mean ok so the price bothers people there, is it $50 a month? Or is the median income in the area so low that $15/month is the hardship? Why cant reporters report some facts…

    I see in the comments “Yes, it is obscenely high. For Internet digital cable with HBO and a couple of DVR’s I pay upwards of $190 bucks a month! Prices have gone up $30 bucks in recent months and now they want an additional 13%.”

    Now thats high for sure but I’d still like to see a breakdown.

  8. zyphbear says:

    I also Live in Pittsburgh, PA.

    This is also the same in my area.

    You either “bend over” for Comcast, get satellite or use OTA signal.

    Verizon had said once they would be adding FIOS TV at some point soon, but they have been “talking” about it for several years now.

    I just use the internet for all my TV instead. Comcast screws over their customers too much by charging $43 for box-less “Extended basic” cable (channels 1-99, but really its 1-70 and 98-99/cable access), then charge $45 for “digital basic” (box needed). Go Figure.

  9. mathew says:

    The town should start by allowing competing companies in. Research has shown that towns with 2 cable providers have lower bills than towns that let a single provider bend them over. Go figure, eh?

    Back when I lived in Cambridge, MA, my neighbors got the same service for $6 a month less, because Somerville MA allowed two companies to compete.

    Ah well, hopefully iTunes and Apple TV will force them all to stop bundling, and we’ll be able to pay for the channels we actually want and cut our bills in half. Ah, I can dream…

  10. HawkWolf says:

    “WAaah, my cable’s too expensive!” should make you think, why am I paying for TV? Would my life be bad if I didn’t? Do I really like TV? Can I get what I need from TV from the internet?

    This sort of stuff sure does. Comcast just upped digital classic in my neighborhood (ann arbor, michigan) to 66 dollars a month, and standard cable is 50 dollars a month. There’s also “we won’t tell you about it” cable for 12 dollars a month which has broadcast channels, and is good for keeping your internet at the discounted rate.

  11. msthe8r says:

    Back in the early 90′s I read an article on the obscene price of cable. One of the important points of the article was that in places that there was more than one cable company, the prices were much more reasonable.
    One of the places specifically mentioned was the place that I grew up, a township just outside of a metropolitan area in another county in Pennsylvania. (ie not a city, but not the sticks either) There were two cable companies competing for the same customers, and prices were roughly 40% of what they were in single-provider areas. Much smugness in that township, because the powers that be had allowed both companies to come in. They had allowed cable installation very early on, before exclusivity contracts became the norm.
    Flash forward to 2007. My sister, who has purchased a house in the same township, is stuck with dial-up, because neither cable company will provide internet service, until the township gives one of them the exclusive contract. (DSL is another no-go there because the phone company won’t trouble themselves to come take the filters off the lines)
    The gist of all this is, there is likely very little anyone can do. It’s clear that the INTENT is to charge obscene prices. Adams county accepting bids from a competitor would also involve an exclusive contract, and price-gouging from the devil they don’t know.

  12. mac-phisto says:

    @mathew: ehhh…i don’t know that i’m all about deregulation. it’s a great theory in concept, but i think application in other utilities has shown that it’s crap. & don’t forget that these guys work together quite frequently thru Cable Television Laboratories, Inc. (www.cablelabs.com). check out the board of directors:

    http://www.cablelabs.com/about/board/

  13. valthun says:

    I don’t think it’s an issue of deregulation. It’s an issue of collusion or monopoly. In San Diego you had 2 “competing” cable companies. They split the city into districts, and they don’t encroach on each others territories. So even if the other provider offers the channels you want you don’t get the choice. The other option would be satellite. But I don’t really see this as a valid alternative for all users. Homeowners associations and landlords have the final say on if you can install a satellite dish on your house or property. In the end it’s a take it or leave it situation. People need their HBO fix so they accept the crap rates because there is nothing they can do about it. I really don’t see satellite as a cheaper alternative either. Since you have to pay a fee to split the signal to each room you want a box, or all rooms are forced to watch the same channel as the master box.

  14. hop says:

    these groups can’t stop you from putting up a satellite dish…..

  15. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @mfergel: Huh? Our cable TV acts exactly like what you’re describing — comes with a box, requires remote-control fiddling, et cetera. Here I was thinking satellite was this complicated thing.

  16. celyn says:

    Over a decade ago, when the city I now live in was having problems with the corporate cable monopoly, the municipal govenment decided that they could do the job just as well. So now municipal utilities include cable TV and cable Internet. They do a pretty good job for a heck of a lot less than Comcast.

    http://www.click-network.com/AboutUs/Default.htm

  17. poornotignorant says:

    In Philadelphia Comcast has a monopoly on the government subsidized Phillies, 76ers and Flyers. So they have a monopoly on the only programming I would pay to watch. They are the most disgusting company I’ve ever dealt with, so I can’t watch these sports that I’ve payed for with taxes.

  18. Buran says:

    @CumaeanSibyl: You can get cable-ready TVs or TVs with cablecard slots to avoid the box. You can’t do that with satellite. I’d love the option of DirecTV but it’s not cablecard compatible so my Tivo Series3 won’t work with DirecTV.

  19. swalve says:

    Same thing in Chicago- a significant percentage of baseball games (Cubs and Sox) are on Comcast Sportsnet. There’s something wrong with that…

  20. sathocom says:

    My gripe with Comcast Cable started in June, when they sent me an invoice with a message. The message stated that Comcast was changing its channel lineups, but the change would not result in a price increase or a loss of channels.
    Next thing I know, I go to watch my SportsChannel, and it’s now a premium service channel.
    OK, so I suppose if they parse their words, the SportsChannel was still there, and there was no increase in the price of the regular or premium service packages, but if I wanted to continue receiving the same service as before, I would have to pay more. Thus, there was indeed a de facto price increase.
    Dirty rotten liars! If Comcast were totally honest, they would state that their changes will result in price increases to some customers, but no….they claim there were no price increases.