South Bethany considers Mediacom's cable franchise


South Bethany held a very extensive town council meeting on Friday, March 13, addressing a number of prominent issues among town residents. Two ordinances, 149-09 and 150-09 – both addressing property management in regard to water run-off and drainage – were discussed, as well as a recent survey concerning the town’s franchise contract with Mediacom.

In the fall of 2008, South Bethany conducted a survey regarding Mediacom’s services throughout the town.

“Approximately 250 responses were received by the town. According to the survey, 48 percent of respondents were pleased with their cable television service,” said Councilman Jay Headman, “although the majority felt that the value of services provided was not appropriate to the cost.”

David Kane, regional vice president of operations for Mediacom, was present to field questions from the council, as well as those present at the meeting. The first issue addressed by Kane, as it has been a frequent complaint, was the recent switch from local to regional customer-service centers.

“We are aware that response time has been slow in the past, and we are doing everything we can to make sure that we assist our customers as quickly as possible.” Kane explained. “Although service is still not up to our expectations, we have significantly improved our call-response time and will continue to do so until we meet our standards.”

Another primary concern, as in the past, was the availability of channels from Philadelphia. Kane explained, “Broadcasting companies operate under strict contracts, regulated by the FCC. When those contracts are negotiated with cable providers, they provide exclusivity for certain channels depending on regional location. Sussex County is not included in contracts for Philadelphia channels. Although there are a few Philly channels that Mediacom currently has on contract, we are unable to provide additional channels at this time.”

There were also a number of smaller concerns that were cleared up at the meeting. Off-season rates are available to seasonal residents, although that has not been widely advertised. To receive seasonal rates, customers should simply contact Mediacom and request them. Kane also directed inquiring parties to the Dagsboro Mediacom Web site at http://dagsboro.mediacomtoday.com, for channel listings, as well as a variety of other important information concerning Mediacom service.

Although Mediacom currently has a limited number of high-definition channels, “We have 16 high-definition channels presently, and we’re working hard to add more HD channels. There will be 11 more by the year’s end.” said Kane. “The update will include CNN, CBS and a variety of History/Science/Discovery-type channels.”

Kane also explained that it is impossible for Mediacom to compete with cable giant Comcast, in relation to volume of channels and quality of broadcast; due to Comcast’s overwhelming size.

“They’re a much larger corporation,” he elaborated, “serving a much larger portion of the country, and with a much larger bank account. We’re doing our best to provide as much HD service as we can, but we simply cannot offer the volume of HD channels that larger companies can. It is feasibly impossible.”

South Bethany officials plan to continue to maintain their franchise contract with Mediacom for numerous reasons. The primary reason, as with most business decisions, is cost.

“Mediacom’s infrastructure is already in place, making their service considerably more efficient,” said Councilman Richard Ronan. “To switch to a different company would require that new company replacing the current infrastructure, wires and routing; which isn’t cheap.”

As long as service continues to improve as it has in the past few months, there is no reason to consider an alternative, council members said.

Anyone having difficulty with their Mediacom is being asked to contact Mediacom’s service department and to be patient.