In a letter the big four broadcast companies recently pushed Congress to investigate high cable prices
, pretending they have no role in soaring costs. In his own a letter
sent to House and Senate leaders, Suddenlink CEO Jerry Kent insists he would support opening up the cable industry’s billing practices only if programmers release details of their own wholesale pricing. Several weeks ago
, Mediacom VP of legal and public affairs Tom Larsen issued a similar letter stating that content providers were intentionally hiding their finances so that people would blame TV providers for the high cost of Pay TV. Suddenlink claims
they are doing this because they have an interest in assuring that "subscribers in smaller markets are not being discriminated against by content providers in favor of subscribers in large metropolitan areas."
Consumer advocates have argued that Suddenlink is doing this so that they can pay content providers less money allowing Suddenlink’s profits to increase. Customers will not see a dime from any savings that Suddenlink receives from content providers cutting their prices, they argue. Critics have long argued the company has a history of anti-consumer practices:
• Suddenlink is one of the last providers to institute caps and charge heavy overages with usage meters that did not work
(in fact they logged usage when user modems were off).
• Suddenlink tried to join the “TV Everywhere
” crowd by putting out a walled-off, limited application under the mistaken belief that this would stop cord-cutting.
• Suddenlink initially blocked Netflix
from any TiVO boxes which did absolutely nothing to stop customers from using Netflix. Update
: Suddenlink reached out to us to note this isn't the case:
We never blocked Netflix from our TiVo boxes. As reported elsewhere, the initial absence of Netflix from our TiVo boxes was a result of Netflix’s own contracts with certain content owners. Since then, Netflix was able to free itself of those constraints, and we reached agreement with Netflix to provide access to its content through our TiVo boxes in May this year.
• Suddenlink forgot to add
the actual prices to their web-site when offering new speeds.
• Suddenlink lied to customers
about having to disconnect them from service for six-months due to DMCA rules.Update
: Suddenlink also contests this claim:
Assuming the reported exchange from four years ago occurred, it was a case of one of our representatives misspeaking. There was no systemic effort to mislead anyone. If anything, this was a short-fall in training and preparation on our part, but to claim the company “lied” is not supported by facts.
Cable operators like to pretend they're blameless in soaring cable hikes, but as we've noted consistently they too drive up costs (DVR rentals, modem rentals, various fees) at every conceivable opportunity. There's really no "good guy" in this fight other than the consumer, and even consumers aren't blameless if they're unwilling to do more than complain about high prices.