For a company that prides itself as "the nation's leading provider of entertainment, information and communications products and services," Comcast isn't very good at communicating with customers. When it reduced the number of analog channels earlier this summer, effectively forcing consumers to purchase a more expensive digital service if they wanted to keep their subscriber package, lots of viewers in
All in all, not a pricing plan any company would want to advertise too loudly. No wonder a lot of analog customers missed the fine print explaining the migration to digital.
So many Vermonters in particular complained about the changes to their Comcast cable service that Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent with a good instinct for monopolistic bad behavior, intervened. Or he tried to: In a deregulated cable market, the powers of a
For its part, Comcast says it's trying to satisfy the majority of its
But these concessions don't excuse the manner in which the company executed the switch. Nor does the promise of better digital service explain why analog subscribers lost popular channels, including MSNBC, a liberal antidote to Fox News, and EWTN, a Catholic religious channel Sanders described as a spiritual lifeline for many of his constituents. Comcast claims customer feedback and contractual obligations with programmers informed decisions about which channels to eliminate; MSNBC was described as one of the "lesser-viewed" channels. We'd like to see the market research on that.
At any rate, Comcast's hegemony in the cable universe is not optimal for consumers. Cable deregulation in 1996 was supposed to lead to more competition and lower prices. Instead, as Sanders points out, cable prices have risen 77 percent since then, double the rate of inflation. And in predominately rural places like
Perhaps it's time more people complained not just about Comcast but also about the effects of cable deregulation. Send your complaints c/o the U.S. Congress to