It seems like lately, you cannot pick up a newspaper from anywhere and not find at least one article about the people of that town being upset with their local cable company. Of course, that has also been the recent hot topic here in Cleveland, having been debated by not only the local newspapers, but by the city commission as well.
Let's face it - nobody likes price increases! Whether it is increases in taxes, grocery prices, heating fuels, gasoline, nobody likes it.
Today, I am going to play the "devil's advocate" concerning Charter Communications and the rates they charge for local cable.
First of all, let me point out that Charter Communications, nor any other cable company, has a studio somewhere with their own actors and performers making all those movies and shows you see on local cable. They PAY the networks and distributors for these programs, just like your local grocery store pays food distributors for the groceries they sell. When the wholesale price of groceries goes up, the price you pay the store goes up as well. There is no difference between groceries and cable - when the wholesale price of cable goes up to the local cable company, the price you pay to them goes up as well.
Mike Burns, manager of the local Charter Communications office, told me the cost of programming to them has had "double digit increases" every year the past few years, with the 2002 increase being 11%. Another thing your local grocery store and the local cable company have in common is they both exist for one reason: To make money! If they cannot make money, there is no reason for them to exist. Of course, buying programming is only a portion of what the cable company spends what you pay them for. Just like the phone company or electric company, they have to hire people to take orders, run lines, research and repair problems.
Employees are not cheap - they do not work for free. A company is only as good as its employees. Talk to any employer and they will tell you the quality of employees available today is not near as good as it was 10-15 years ago, yet the wages paid are much higher now than they were then. Do you really think a "for profit" company is going to absorb these increases?
Now, let's look at the necessity of cable TV.
If it is 10 degrees outside, do you have to have cable? If a child stops breathing, do you have to have to have cable to call an ambulance? Let's face it - cable TV is really no different than being online on a computer. It is helpful, it is enjoyable, and most of all, it is ENTERTAINING - but it is not a necessity of life.
Let's look at what the cost of cable TV entertainment. It is estimated the average American family of four watches TV an average of 20 hours per week. That means 20 hours per person, x 4 = 80 hours per week of entertainment, or 350 combined hours per month. If your cable bill is $100 per month, each hour of viewing is 28 cents per hour per person. That, folks, is cheap entertainment!
If you are disgruntled with cable, nobody is holding a gun to your head and making you keep it - quit complaining and buy Direct TV, or if you really want to save big, go to Radio Shack and buy a $39.99 antenna!