Hamilton Mayor Says Cablevision's Drop of the Food Network and HGTV Without Corresponding Rate Reduction Highlights Need for Greater State Oversight
"If we ratepayers are getting less channels, then why are we not also receiving a lower cable bill?” asks Hamilton Township Mayor John Bencivengo of Cablevision's decision to drop the Food Network and HGTV.
Mayor Bencivengo says it is time for the State Board of Public Utilities, which regulates utilities such as Cablevision, Comcast and Verizon FIOS, to take a closer look at these instances where ratepayers end up paying more for less service. Today, the Mayor wrote Board of Public Utility President Jeannie Fox to request a review of this situation.
“Whenever a cable or television provider drop channels from their basic package offering, regardless of the reasons or circumstances, ratepayers fail to see a savings in their bills. This is wrong.” writes Bencivengo in his letter. “The BPU must exercise its powers to act in the consumer’s best interests, to ensure that the ratepayers across the entire state have a fair price for the services they pay to enjoy. All too often, New Jersey’s ratepayers are the ones asked to ‘take the hit’ without any consideration or compensation, and in this case not even the courtesy of prior notification.”
In addition, until Cablevision can provide a satisfactory explanation as to why basic cable rates are not dropping as a result of the reduced service, the Mayor said he will not sign the franchise renewal agreement that the Township and Cablevision have been negotiating over during the past year.
"Until I receive an explanation that illustrates to me that the ratepayers that I represent as Mayor are receiving a fair price for their Cable service, I cannot in good conscience sign a franchise renewal agreement with Cablevision,” explains Mayor Bencivengo. "I am willing to listen, but the argument must be convincing before I sign any agreement.”