City Lodges Formal Complaint Over Comcast Fees, Business Practices
Spurred on by the complaints of upset residents, the city opted to send a complaint regarding Comcast's business practices to Eagan's Congressional delegation.
Calling Comcast's cable rate hikes painful to consumers and labeling the company a monopoly, Eagan city officials urged local Congressional delegates to take action in a formal complaint approved on Tuesday night.
The letter, ratified by the Eagan City Council, is the latest development in a dustup regarding recent Comcast rate increases. In January, the company began charging some subscribers $1.99 per month for each digital transport adapter, or DTA—a piece of equipment that allows older analog TVs to display digital channels.
Eagan residents upset at the unexpected charges took their complaints en masse to City Hall, and the council hosted a public hearing last month with a Comcast representative to "shed light" on the matter.
City officials also analyzed January subscription rate increases, and found that Comcast had almost universally increased its rates, including a 9.5 percent increase for limited basic cable, the lowest tier of cable service.
In the past, Eagan was able to regulate basic cable rates and fees on all equipment necessary to provide that service. But in 2007, the Federal Communications Commission ruled that the company had sufficient competition in Eagan from satellite television service, and deregulated the city. The result, city officials say, has been bad for consumers.
In the letter, Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire and other city officials asked Rep. John Kline, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and FCC Deputy Chief Steven Broeckaert to:
- Restore local authority to regulate cable service and equipment rates
- Require cable and satellite companies to have totally transparent pricing "calculators" on their websites so consumers can see all prices and fees that apply based on their location to decide if they want the service or not
- Expand customer service standards to allow local units of government to mandate transparent pricing by franchised cable operators
- Require the FCC to consider the public interest when establishing cable rate regulations
- Revisit the effective competition standards created by Congress in 1992 to strengthen local franchise control over the rates imposed by cable operators
Click on the PDF attached to this article to see a full copy of the letter approved by the Eagan council on Tuesday.