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Chatfield grills Mediacom representative

Fri, Aug 1st, 2014
Posted in Chatfield Government

Councilors made it clear at the Chatfield City Council’s July 28 meeting that Mediacom customers in Chatfield were displeased with the recent channel changes made by the company. Councilors Paul Novotny and Dave Frank were absent.

Lee Grassley, Senior Manager, Government Relations for Mediacom Communications, drove up from Cedar Rapids to sit on the hot seat before the council. At the council’s June 23 meeting, after councilors and city staff had been bombarded with e-mails and phone calls from angry residents that were dissatisfied with the channel changes, the council passed a resolution requesting that Mediacom reinstate WCCO-4, KSTP-5, and WLAX-25. The resolution argued that the loss of these channels cut connections with Minneapolis, St. Paul, and reduced connections with La Crosse. Grassley noted that about 40 percent of Chatfield households subscribe to Mediacom.

Grassley insisted that legal technicalities were involved and that the changes have been in the plans for a couple of years. Mediacom decided to do the channel realignment all at once in mid June. He suggested that the city may not be where it should be technologically.

Grassley went into some detail about how things have changed since the 1950s when geographic lines were drawn at the recommendation of the Nielsen ratings. Each town used to have its own head end, where the signal originated. The company is currently working on more fiber and extended networks to improve band width.

Since 2007 the company has had to pay more for retransmission consent fees when service went to digital from analog. Grassley maintained these retransmission fees for video are really killing us. During analog transmission, the rules were you could get any channel you could pull in with an antenna. He claimed they couldn’t legally provide channels like WCCO today unless the broadcaster filed an affidavit with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that proves a channel is significantly viewed.

Councilor Mike Urban asked directly if they cannot legally provide these channels. Grassley said they can’t.

Mayor Russ Smith said he had no idea if a competitor would come, recognizing that a competitor would have to want to come, adding Mediacom is what we have. Grassley said we all have to follow the same rules and conform to federal law.

Councilor Ken Jacobson said he subscribes to Mediacom and will continue to, but felt his quality of television is poorer than 5 to 7 years ago. He remarked that he has been on the council for 10 years and no issue has caused people to call him more. Grassley replied, “Under today’s condition, we did what the law requires.”

Councilor Robert Pederson complained that Mediacom doesn’t come to construction meetings. He said the bombshell was dropped on June 17 and he felt the company didn’t let people know what was coming, adding Mediacom has not been a good company.

Grassley listed many new channels that have become available. Jacobson said that subscribers have to have a cable box to get those new channels. Smith told Grassley that he hoped you have a feeling of the dissatisfaction toward Mediacom.

Jacobson said later after Grassley had left that we really don’t, as a city, have much to say about this service. We have a franchise agreement with Mediacom. If some other company were to come in, we would have to do it legally.

Urban said he felt they have to respond to citizen complaints about Mediacom. Smith suggested they at least take a look and see if a competitor is a possibility.

Other Business In Brief

•A WSB and Associates drainage proposal was considered for a “drainage study associated with the drainage swale and existing private pond located between Margaret St. NE and James St. NE in the Meyers and TerMar Subdivisions.” Property owners at the end of James and Margaret Streets requested the study. The proposal was accepted as submitted with a cost not to exceed $4,260. Tony Lammers noted that several backyards are getting wet and they have had to work in the area a number of times.

•An agreement with the Conservation Corps Minnesota was approved for 3 to 4 days of work to clean out ditches on Main St. at a cost of $1,050 per day for a 5-man crew. The work was requested by Knutson’s.

•Pederson said the Brass Band deserves a big Thank-you for Thursday concerts in the park.


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5:32:19, Aug 2nd 2014

Miss my city stations... says:
I contacted Mediacom and the television stations right when this happened and was basically told that what they did was legal. No one said, as this rep stated, that it was not legal to provide the channels. I have a made a followup inquiry. No customer I've heard from is happy with this change...and there has been a lot of talk about it in the whole region!!!


2:26:15, Aug 3rd 2014

KingslandGrad95 says:
Miss my city stations- the reworking of channels that Mediacom did is something that those of us that live in the country and rely on satellite tv. There are days that I wish i could watch network tv channels other than those that are currently available, KIMT, KAAL, KTTC, KSMQ, KXLT. But, due to FCC rules, which was mentioned by the Mediacom representative, local channels are limited to those that are in the customer's local market. If I wanted to receive WCCO, KSTP or KARE, I would need to petition the local tv equivalents-KIMT, KAAL, and KTTC for a waiver to be able to receive the other channels. The local tv stations are very unlikely to grant waivers.