On May 3, Ocean View held a public hearing to hear residents’ comments and concerns regarding the town’s renewal of their franchise agreement with the cable television and Internet service provider Mediacom.
“We’re jointly trying to negotiate the best deal we can,” said Ocean View Town Manager Conway Gregory of the joint hiring of Cohen Law Group jointly with the towns of Bethany Beach, South Bethany and Millville, to help negotiate each town’s individual franchise agreement.
Gregory noted that the town currently receives approximately $55,000 annually from Mediacom through their agreement and is not looking to increase franchise fees because any increase would only be passed on to the consumers, the town’s residents.
Ocean View resident Neil Beahan presented a report from a recent edition of Consumer Reports, which ranked Mediacom as 15th out of 16 companies in TV service; 24th of 27 in Internet service and 23rd out of 23 in phone service.
“It’s clearly something the cable company needs to look at,” he said.
Resident Richard White said he is still recovering from “sticker shock” after his bill recently increased by $68 per month.
He also asked what else Mediacom could do for the town, such as offer public access channels or other services.
White wondered whether or not the town would be able to enter into a bulk service agreement, as other local communities, including as Bear Trap and Sea Colony, have done, to cut down rates to consumers.
“I’d be willing to participate in that kind of deal if it’d help reduce my bill,” he said. “I hope that we can get some improvement out of this.”
Mike Fraser said that she had paid for an upgraded cable package from the company so her family would be able to receive the Hallmark Channel.
“Mediacom is way behind,” she said, compared to Comcast. “The choices for young people to watch… it’s not nice stuff.”
She went on to say that their cable was out frequently, “for one reason or another, and they kept charging me each month.”
“I’d just like us to be treated like other companies treat their clients,” she said.
Resident Dana Schaefer said she feels limited as a consumer when it comes to cable services.
“I feel the channel selection through Mediacom is inferior,” she said.
She added that, as a teacher and lifeguard, she needs to be able to receive local news coverage to get information about the weather and schools, which rules out having satellite TV. (Some local channels are now available to local viewers with satellite TV service, thanks to recent revisions in federal law.)
Resident Lene Kuhblank said that, after having so much trouble with her cable, she gave up watching TV and read a lot of good books instead.
Gregory, who lives in Denton, Md., echoed Kuhblank, saying that he and his wife do not have cable and have not turned on their television for close to three years.
“It has allowed me to read all 302 short stories of O. Henry,” he shared.
Ocean View residents who were unable to make it to the public hearing may contact the town office at (302) 539-9797 to make comment.