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Media General Yanks 16 Of Its TV Stations Off Mediacom Cable Systems Nationwide

Phillip Dampier July 15, 2015 Consumer News, Mediacom, Public Policy & Gov't 1 Comment

media generalMediacom subscribers in 15 cities lost 16 Media General-owned over the air stations from the cable lineup in a retransmission consent dispute just as a Major League Baseball All-Star Game to be shown on some of them was about to get underway.

Most of the stations are in smaller cities served by Mediacom and include:

  • Alabama: WIAT (CBS) Birmingham, WFNA (CW) Mobile
  • California: KRON (CW) San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose
  • Indiana: WANE (CBS) Fort Wayne, WTHI (CBS) Terre Haute
  • Kansas: KSNT (NBC) Topeka, KTMJ Topeka, KSNW (NBC) Wichita-Hutchison
  • Iowa: KWQC (NBC) Davenport,  KIMT (CBS/My Network TV) Mason City
  • Michigan: WOTV (ABC) Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, WOOD (NBC) Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek
  • South Dakota: KELO (CBS/My Network TV) Sioux Falls
  • Tennessee: WKRN (ABC) Nashville
  • Virginia: WAVY (NBC) Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, WVBT Norfolk
  • Wisconsin: WBAY (ABC) Green Bay-Appleton

logo_mediacom_mainMediacom claims Media General was seeking excessive compensation to renew its carriage agreement with the television stations. Customers were told in a letter signed by Tom Curtis that some stations were demanding more than double the old rate to renew the contract.

“Not only was Media General demanding more than double the money, the price they set for KWQC [in Davenport, Iowa] was significantly more than any other broadcast station we carry,” Curtis wrote. “If we agreed to Media General’s demands, KWQC would have become the most expensive broadcast channel in all of the 1,500 communities that Mediacom serves across 22 states. Further, other broadcasters would follow and begin demanding to be paid the same as Media General, driving up costs for other channels on your lineup.”

This is the second time in four years customers have lost the stations. When LIN Media owned several of the outlets in 2011, it refused cable carriage for more than a month over a similar dispute.

Mediacom is America’s Worst Cable Operator (Again) in Consumer Reports Survey

Phillip Dampier June 2, 2015 Broadband Speed, Consumer News, Mediacom, Rural Broadband Comments Off on Mediacom is America’s Worst Cable Operator (Again) in Consumer Reports Survey

logo_mediacom_main“Dealing with Mediacom is like stepping on a mound of fire ants,” says June Watts, a Mediacom customer in Alabama. “You are going to get stung no matter what you do.”

Watts is one of many unhappy Mediacom customers that once again bottom-rated the cable company into last place in Consumer Reports annual survey of telecommunications providers. In every case, Mediacom scored the worst or nearly the worst on bundled services, Internet, phone, television, service quality, and pricing.

“Missing channels, stuck channels, inconsistent Internet speeds, Internet and phone outages, boxes that won’t stay authorized, and wait times up to 45 minutes to get them on the phone are all part of my experience with them,” Watts tells Stop the Cap! “It never gets better because once they fix one thing something else breaks.”

skunkMediacom’s customer service forums offer some clues about what makes Mediacom such a problem for its customers. “Cyberpunk 1161” pays for 100/20Mbps service but is lucky to get 10% of that speed on a good day. He started corresponding about his speed issues with Mediacom’s social media team on Feb. 19. He is still having issues as of June 2, nearly four months later, and his conversation with Mediacom has now extended to 15 pages. “WhiteBengal50” has already managed three pages of complaints starting on May 18. Another customer spent one year and four months with his cable line left unburied on his lawn.

“They run a poorly maintained operation in mostly rural communities larger companies don’t want to deal with,” said Jerry Butler, a Mediacom customer in Iowa. “They are trying to keep up with larger operators but they have not invested nearly enough in reliability, which alienates customers with regular service outages and ongoing technical issues.”

Butler notes he can buy 100Mbps broadband service from Mediacom, but he won’t actually see 100Mbps speeds because the cable infrastructure between him and the cable office has deteriorated over the years.

“They need new overhead cable on their poles but they won’t spend the money to do it,” Butler said. “Cable operators should be budgeting to replace system components approaching their expected end of life instead of waiting for them to fail. They could also use more monitoring tools to find deteriorating infrastructure and replace it before it fails.”

Drahi Readies His Next Move: “If I Buy Five Smaller Cable Companies, I Am as Big as Time Warner Cable”

Drahi

Drahi

Patrick Drahi, the billionaire ruthless cost-cutting owner of Altice SA told a French parliamentary hearing he didn’t go ahead with a serious bid for Time Warner Cable because he lacked enough management talent to run a huge cable company in a country he only recently entered.

“I didn’t follow up on the exchanges we had on Time Warner Cable that were mentioned in the media because we were not ready,” Drahi told a French parliamentary hearing on Wednesday.

Drahi testified French-owned banks were ready to help finance a deal that would have stolen Time Warner Cable away from Charter Communications. Instead, Drahi has decided to spend a little time digesting his acquisition of Suddenlink to gain experience in the U.S. cable market before he moves on other cable operators. Drahi believes he will be the only buyer left to cut major cable consolidation deals.

“Time is on our side” for the U.S. expansion,” Drahi said. “The two leaders Comcast and Charter will not be able to buy anything else because of their size so we will have an open boulevard ahead of us. If I buy five small operators, I can be as big as Time Warner Cable.”

The five most-likely cable operators Drahi will pursue, according to a business editor at RFI, the French overseas broadcaster: Cablevision, Cox, Mediacom, WOW!, and Cable One. Cox and Mediacom are privately held and Cablevision is tightly controlled by its founding Dolan family, so Drahi will likely have to sweeten deals to convince all three to sell.

Reuters reports Drahi is especially interested in the smaller, less profitable operators because they are ripe for his brand of cost management and consolidation-related savings.

“Even better, that means we will have room to improve them,” Drahi said.

Drahi remained enthusiastic about Cablevision, despite the fact it serves one of the most competitive markets blanketed by Verizon FiOS in the United States.

“It’s good actually since it means they know how to compete,” Drahi said.

Drahi’s reputation is well-known in Europe based on his earlier acquisitions. Altice favors telecom and cable companies seen as poorly managed or undervalued which Drahi targets for massive cost-slashing to improve profitability. The investments he does make are largely to benefit high-end customers he values the most.

Bright House, Time Warner Cable, and Mediacom Customers Get Expanded TV Everywhere

Phillip Dampier August 14, 2014 Consumer News, Mediacom, Online Video Comments Off on Bright House, Time Warner Cable, and Mediacom Customers Get Expanded TV Everywhere

NBC_Universal.svgThree cable operators have announced additions to their TV Everywhere services that let cable television subscribers stream certain cable networks from home computers and portable wireless devices.

Time Warner and Bright House are inching towards making their apps more useful with new deals that will allow viewing outside of the home. Unsurprisingly, Time Warner has managed to sign a deal with their potential new owner — Comcast/NBCUniversal —  that includes anywhere-viewing of live and on demand content from NBCUniversal’s suite of cable networks including USA Network, Syfy, Telemundo, Bravo, Oxygen, CNBC, MSNBC, mun2, NBC Sports Network, and Golf Channel, as well as local NBC and Telemundo-owned broadcast stations.

Since Time Warner Cable handles cable programming negotiations for Bright House Networks, both customers will receive the enhanced service.

Within the next few days, customers will have access to the NBC Sports Live Extra and Golf Live Extra services via apps on iOS and Android devices, as well as online. Access to the remaining broadcast and cable networks will become available to Time Warner Cable and Bright House customers starting in September, and continuing on an ongoing basis. Customers must verify their subscription to begin watching.

nfl channelUnfortunately, there are only a handful of NBC-owned and operated broadcast stations across both companies’ service areas. In most cases, local affiliate stations are owned and operated by other corporate entities and will not be included in this deal.

Mediacom Communications has expanded its own TV Everywhere package, adding NFL Network and NFL RedZone this week, along with mobile access to FX, FXX, FX Movies, National Geographic and National Geographic Wild.

Mediacom now offers 40 channels for out-of-home viewing and plans to add FOX Sports Go and other popular sports networks by September.

TV Everywhere allows Mediacom customers to always be connected to live entertainment and information,” said Mediacom senior vice president Ed Pardini. “Adding new channels to this service extends the value of a video subscription by giving customers more options to view their favorite programs when and where they want, whether that’s the big screen in living rooms or with the convenience of a mobile device.”

Mediacom customers looking for NFL Network and NFL RedZone on smartphones and tablets must download the free NFL Mobile App by going to the web site. Mediacom is now listed as a participating provider. Customers should log in with their Mediacom email address and username.

Mediacom Boosts Speeds Up to 305Mbps; Upgrades Begin in June

Phillip Dampier April 29, 2014 Broadband Speed, Competition, Consumer News, Mediacom 2 Comments

logo_mediacom_mainMediacom sent Stop the Cap! a press release today indicating it is boosting broadband speeds at no charge for customers starting this June and continuing through the summer months.

  • Prime Plus ($59.95), originally 30/2Mbps will be upgraded to 50/5Mbps in early June;
  • Ultra ($79.95), originally 50/5Mbps will be increased to 100/10Mbps in early June;
  • Ultra Plus ($99.95), formerly 105/10Mbps, increases to 150/20Mbps and will be rolled out to most Mediacom systems over the summer. Upload speeds may initially stay at 10Mbps until the upgrades are complete.

Mediacom is testing 305/10Mbps service in Cedar Rapids, Ia. to compete with CenturyLink. It costs $199.95 a month. Standard Internet service ($49.95) remains unchanged at 15/1Mbps.

“Today, we’re either pulling down data or sending something up,” Mediacom spokeswoman Phyllis Peters said. “People want faster speeds coming down because a lot of people maybe are tapping into things coming down. They want more speed in both directions because they’re sharing video files and higher-bandwidth applications.”

The company said it will be the eighth time in the last 10 years it will have increased Internet speeds, in each case without raising prices.

“We’re doubling our network capacity every 18 months,” Peters said.

 

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