Rich Warren: Comcast helps ... Mediacom, not so much

Score two for Comcast. A Comcast representative confirmed the company resolved the channel issues experienced by our reader who lives near Hessel Park. It required a rather complex fix because Comcast worked with Ameren concerning a possibly faulty utility pole in the area. This kind of fix doesn't involve the shifting sands of programming sources and copyright issues.

Another reader had lamented she was unhappy with recent developments in Comcast On-Demand.

"For example some things I used to get as 'free with subscription' now have only a 'buy' button; take '30 Rock,' which is offering all seasons but for some reason is not available to me without 'buy.'"

After I contacted Comcast, it responded by immediately adjusting her bill and addressing her questions about the fees for "30 Rock."

The same reader posited the following query: "I'm curious about, the Comcast fella said he couldn't control 'Streampix.' the company that bought '30 Rock' and some other stuff I could no longer access for free, but a pal told me today that Comcast in fact owns Streampix. ... (W)onder if that is true."

Comcast seems to own Streampix, just as it owns NBC. It is a very large company, and the division that provides cable service in Illinois has little or no connection with other autonomous and semi-autonomous divisions. GE sold NBC to Comcast, but other than the fact that he is a celebrity, Al Roker probably did not receive a discount on GE refrigerators because he worked for NBC.

Comcast launched Streampix to compete with Netflix, Vudu and other video-on-demand services.

As far as cost increases, program suppliers, better known as content providers, continue flexing their collective muscles when it comes to charging cable and satellite companies for programming.

Thus, you'll see regular rate increases no matter whether cable, U-verse or satellite supplies your programming. Price differentials between cable, U-verse or satellite stem from technical and corporate overhead, along with how lean a profit a company is willing to accept.

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This brings us to Mediacom, the rural cable provider. My current statement came with a notice it would be upping the bill by $4.06 a month for those with Family TV. This includes a monthly local station surcharge of $2.06.

Until now, I accepted basic Mediacom TV because it provided a small discount for Internet service. With this new increase, Internet-only service becomes cheaper. I never connected the cable to my TVs, since I view the local channels without surcharge over-the-air using an ancient device called an antenna.

So I telephoned Mediacom to cancel the TV service. Unlike when I phone with a technical problem, I quickly reached an American human. He was amazed that I would cancel TV for a mere $2.06 a month. He told me there would be a $29 charge to send a technician out to the box on the street to disconnect the TV service. That's to the box on the street, not to my house.

After considerable arguing about the ethical basis for this charge (since when is one charged for disconnecting an unused service?) he grudgingly said he'd waive the $29 charge. I could hear the subtext in his voice about how cheap I was. Seems to me $29 would buy a delicious meal for two (without drinks, appetizer or tip) at any of downtown Champaign's fine restaurants.

I attended an advanced high school that offered courses in television production before inexpensive cameras and video recorders became available.

During that period, Zenith attempted an experiment in Chicago with over-the-air pay TV, which dismally failed. I wrote a paper for my class about why pay TV would never succeed. Obviously, I totally missed the mark, although it took awhile to prove me wrong.

I'll wait until Amazon discounts the DVDs of "30 Rock" or "Mad Men" and then consider viewing the series. Meanwhile, I can watch "Mr. Selfridge" and "Send the Midwife" for a heartfelt donation to WILL.

Rich Warren, who lives in the Champaign area, is a longtime reviewer of consumer electronics. He can be emailed at hifiguy@mchsi.com.

Topics (1):Television

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rsp wrote on April 18, 2013 at 9:04 am

Some of those series are available through the libraries on DVD. When I bought my house almost 20 years ago I called to have the cable line removed from my house. They thought I was crazy. Kept talking about what if the next person to move in wanted it, "everyone" wants cable.