Mediacom: Congress Should Look at Both Sides Of Market

Mediacom has told Congress that it is content owners, not cable operators, who are not open and transparent about what pay TV subs pay for and why and if the committee is going to look into pricing, it should look at the wholesale side as well as the retail.

That came in a letter to the leadership of the House Energy & Commerce Committee in response to one from (made up primarily of broadcast station owners and affiliates) seeking a congressional investigation into pay TV pricing.

In the letter, Tom Larsen. group VP, legal and public affairs, for Mediacom, a top 10 cable operator, said that the missing info in cable bills is in the hands of companies like those in station affiliate associations and the National Association of Broadcasters are among those--that refuse to make that public.

He said that while cable operators are subject to government disclosure requirements of their rates and charges--and disclose because it is also the right business decision, he adds--broadcast stations and cable networks have no such disclosure requirement for retrans or license fees."

By "hiding behind such clauses," says Larson, content owners cause "a large measure of economic disruption."

Larsen says Mediacom would welcome and "fully cooperate" with a congressional inquiry that looks at both sides of the market, and called on TV stations and cable nets to provide full prices disclosure, and if not, says Congress should compel it.

He said he is sure a that a look at both sides will find that TV station and cable nets are the cause of rate increases and the "forced" purchases of "unwanted" channels.

“Only in Washington can pay-TV’s army of lobbyists and lawyers ignore two decades of FCC data showing geometric rate increases that far outpace the rate of inflation,” said TVfreedom spokesman, Robert Kenny.

“Instead, the pay-TV cabal offers double-speak aimed at diverting consumers away from real pocketbook issues of rising cable rates and ghost charges. Americans want to know why their bills keep rising beyond the costs of inflation and a better explanation of mysterious and unexplained charges. They want to know why they are being charged $7 billion a year in set-top box rental fees that seem to rise every month. The bottom line is that Americans aren’t fooled by the pay-TV doublespeak.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.