Time to end Time Warners monopoly.

In case Time Warner forgot, it got to string all that cable up without having to compensate anyone else for the use of existing poles or buying right-of-way. In exchange, they provide a “franchise fee” to local communities and deliver “Public access” programming.

It sounds as if this is the way Time Warner is going to pass off their payoff of WDTN- yet, there are those of us who are civic minded who only pay for public access and to avoid mounting an exterior antenna to pick up the local broadcast stations. The Home Shopping network isn’t really a bonus. In fact, there are stations that want to be carried on cable networks for free- just because they are looking for ad reach. At some point, Time Warner should be offering a free level with just these channels and the public access. It doesn’t cost $10 a month to maintain a cable into the house- but, it would have if they had to pay for their access to the public poles and right-of-ways.

If they are going to get this increase, they should have to provide the same public access channels to phone companies providing television programming and to satellite providers- as well as fund public streaming over IP of DATV.

Time Warner Cable customers who take basic cable or expanded basic cable service will see rate increases of 10 to 12 percent beginning in November, according to the company.

Customers who take bundled packages of more than one service — various combinations of digital cable, phone, high-speed data or high-definition television — won’t see the price increases because their rates are guaranteed for one to two years, said Pamela McDonald, regional spokeswoman for Time Warner Cable.

Basic cable service offers 24 channels. Expanded basic — also known as standard — service adds about 50 channels, including ESPN, ESPN2, CNN, Fox Sports Network Ohio, Nickelodeon, Discovery Channel, Bravo and USA Network.

The rate increases will affect fewer than half of Tme Warner’s approximately 300,000 customers in the Dayton region, McDonald said Tuesday, Oct. 21. She declined to be more specific, saying that Time Warner does not want to reveal precise figures to competitors.

Subscribers who take basic cable service are currently paying between $10 and $11 per month and will see an increase of about $1 starting in November, McDonald said.

Time Warner needs the rate increases in order to cover costs of programming, operation and customer service, McDonald said.

Some Time Warner Cable customers getting rate increases.

I got rid of everything except the basic service 2 years ago and haven’t looked back. Netflix provides movies (and I’m probably moving to Blockbuster because of Netflix adding a $1 surcharge for BluRay’s starting next month) and most of what I watch is available over broadcast with my TiVo. But, with things tightening up- I’ll be dammned if I pay a buck extra for an NBC less basic package.

Antennas are starting to look real good. Just remember, next February, you’ll need a converter box for all non-digital tvs and a different antenna as the stations switch to digital broadcast. Boxes run about $40 and a government rebate check will be available for the same amount.

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