Lots of static

Lots of static
The reception received by John Varvel, government relations manager for Mediacom, couldn't have been clearer Monday.

The Vermillion City Council is upset. The cause of the all the static: Mediacom has raised its rates. Again.

Effective last Sunday, Jan. 15, the cost of the broadcast basic package offered by the cable company in Vermillion increased by $1 per month, to $19.95. The cost of expanded basic went up $2 per month, from $23 to $25.

The most popular offering by Mediacom in Vermillion is a total family cable package, which is a combination of the broadcast and expanded basic services. The cost of the total family cable package has taken a $3 monthly increase, from $41.95 to $44.95.

Varvel said cable rates in a community are based on costs.

"As our costs go up, we have to raise our rates," he said. "In the past year, programming rates increased in double-digit inflation numbers to us. That's the biggest single expense item we have."

On top of that, Mediacom has had to deal with significant increases in the costs of employee benefits, primarily health care, and fuel for its trucks, he said.

Research by city staff, however, shows that Yankton residents pay much less per month � $27.95 � for expanded basic cable services.

"Yankton is in a competitive situation; we're doing what we have to do in that community to maintain our share of the market," he said.

Mediacom is the sole cable provider in Vermillion. It faces competition in Yankton from Prairie Wave.

Alderman Jere Chapman said it's likely that Mediacom has the same number of customers in Vermillion and Yankton.

"It's pretty obvious that Vermillion customers are subsidizing Yankton, and everybody I talk to is getting really tired of that," he told Varvel. "As a council I wish we could do everything possible to correct that situation, even if we have to encourage people to go on satellite, and then maybe you will want to protect your investment over here."

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