SMALL CABLE TV OPERATORS ACROSS THE CAROLINAS SAY ‘NO’ TO AMC
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — December 29, 2015 —AMC Networks’ unfair contract renewal demands mean more than 200,000 cable TV subscribers across North and South Carolina could soon lose AMC if a new deal is not reached by December 31st. AMC’s demands highlight a growing problem behind cable TV price hikes and the burdens they place on independent cable TV companies and their customers.
Independent cable TV companies, which represent more than 200,000 subscribers across North and South Carolina, are saying “NO” to the unfair contract renewal demands proposed by AMC networks. The company, which owns AMC, WE, IFC, and other networks, is demanding programming fee rate hikes of as much as 200 percent in some cases. In addition to the unprecedented fee increase, AMC Networks is also mandating the addition of several less popular channels and payment from all customers regardless of whether their cable package includes AMC.
South Carolina independent cable TV operators Comporium, Horry Telephone Cooperative (HTC), Home Telecom, Hargray Communications, Chesnee Communications, and Tru-Vista Communications, along with North Carolina’s Atlantic Telephone Membership Corporation (ATMC), Star Communications, SkyLine/Skybest, Surry Telephone Membership Corporation (STMC), Piedmont Communications Services Inc., Tri-County Telephone Cooperative, and Morris Broadband, are all members of the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC), a not-for-profit consortium of independent cable TV providers that negotiates contracts on behalf of more than 700 members spread across the country. NCTC is diligently negotiating with AMC Networks to try to avoid the loss of AMC in more than four million homes.
It is the goal of the NCTC to provide small and independent cable TV operators programming fee parity consistent with what is paid by large cable TV companies. “There comes a point where you have to say ‘enough’. That point is now,” said Allen Russ, ATMC Chief Executive Officer. “Our customers are already saying they are tired of paying for channels they aren’t watching. AMC’s current offer would only make that issue worse and possibly push our customers to look to other entertainment options.”
“We want our customers to know that network programming fees account for the vast majority of their monthly cable TV bills, and unfair demands like those made by AMC are the reason why cable TV prices are out of control,” commented Mike Hagg, Chief Executive Officer at HTC. “We can’t continue to accept unrealistic and unfair demands of programmers like AMC.”
“We are extremely concerned about how these increases directly impact our customers,” said Matthew Dosch, EVP of Customer Operations and External Affairs at Comporium. “Requiring payment for some customers, who don’t even have the channel in their package, is pure greed.”
NCTC members pay companies like AMC Networks, Disney-ESPN, Viacom, Discovery, Turner Networks, and others programming fees which account for most of what is paid for cable TV service. The network programming contracts allow member companies little to no flexibility in how channels may be packaged and offered to consumers. A common tactic used to generate increased carriage and programming fees is to tie carriage of several unpopular channels to that of a more popular network. This is a tactic AMC is using in this negotiation as it is seeking to force NCTC members to add low-rated networks.
“Not only does AMC’s requirement to force carriage of low-rated channels like BBC World News cause us and our customers to incur costs for channels they don’t want, it also requires excess bandwidth capacity which directly affects our ability to offer our customers faster broadband speeds,” commented ATMC’s Allen Russ.
“The amount of fees demanded by all of the cable TV networks is out of control, and their strict channel carriage requirements don’t give us the ability to sell our customers only the channels they want to pay for,” said TriCounty Telecom General Manager and CEO, Greg Coltrain. “We have to fight for the interests of our customers.”
“We have no problem paying AMC a price that is fair, but an increase that amounts to almost 200 percent is harmful to our customers, and we can’t agree to it,” said HTC’s Hagg. “We remain hopeful that a reasonable offer can be reached before the current contract expires at midnight on December 31st. If a new agreement is not reached, AMC Networks could force us to remove AMC, WE, and their other networks from our lineup.”
Additional information and updates are available at www.TVOnMySide.com, a website that helps educate members about the rise in programming costs and their effects on cable TV rates.
Hargray provides Internet, television, and communications services in Beaufort, Jasper, and Hampton counties in South Carolina, and Chatham, Bulloch, Liberty, Tattnall, Putnam, and Greene counties in Georgia. For more information, please visit www.hargray.com.
HARGRAY ANNOUNCES FIRST FIBER-TO-THE-HOME COMMUNITY AS PART OF THE LOWCOUNTRY BROADBAND PLAN
HILTON HEAD PLANTATION HOMEOWNERS TO BE AMONG THE FIRST TO GET FIBER TECHNOLOGY
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — December 14, 2015 — Following up on its pledge to construct Fiber-to-the-Home networks as part of the Lowcountry Broadband Plan, Hargray announced today that its first residential fiber overbuild will be in Hilton Head Plantation. Construction is slated to begin January 15, 2016 and is expected to be completed by the spring of 2016.
Since the June 2015 joint announcement of The Lowcountry Broadband Plan with community leaders from the Towns of Hilton Head Island and Bluffton, Beaufort County, the Hilton Head Island Information Technology Task Force, and the Hilton Head Island / Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, Hargray has been working with several communities to gauge their interest in this future-proofed technology. Hilton Head Plantation acted quickly to seek resident commitments and this week met the threshold agreed upon with Hargray. These improvements are expected to bolster home values and increase Internet speeds to 100 times faster than the national average.
Peter Kristian, General Manager of Hilton Head Plantation, expressed his excitement about bringing Hargray Fiber-to-the Home technology to the residents of Hilton Head Plantation, saying, “This state-of-the-art fiber infrastructure will run throughout our community delivering superior internet speeds inside our residents’ homes. This will make Hilton Head Plantation one of the most technologically advanced communities in the country. Hargray has mustered all of their resources to bring this cutting edge infrastructure to our community, and we are proud to be the first community launched as part of the Lowcountry Broadband Plan.”
Gerrit Albert, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Hargray Communications, added, “We are thrilled to bring advanced High Speed Internet services to Hilton Head Plantation, while also building a telecommunications network infrastructure that is capable of rapidly responding to the ever-increasing demands and advancements in technology.”
The Lowcountry Broadband Plan is a framework to deliver Gigabit Internet speeds, and has three objectives:
- Provide Gigabit Internet services to residential communities where there is demonstrated demand;
- Deliver Gigabit services to interested businesses; and
- Provide Gigabit WiFi in public areas, including select beaches.
Discussions between Hargray and several communities on Hilton Head Island are ongoing, and Hargray expects that construction will commence in the next community before the end of the year. For more information about the Lowcountry Broadband Plan, please visit www.hargray.com/lowcountry-broadband.
Hargray provides Internet, television, and communications services in Beaufort, Hampton, and Jasper counties in South Carolina, and Bulloch, Chatham, Greene, Liberty, Putnam, and Tattnall counties in Georgia. For more information, please visit www.hargray.com.
HARGRAY ACQUIRES PLANTATION CABLEVISION
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC — November 2, 2015 — Hargray Communications announced today the acquisition of Eatonton, GA-based Plantation Cablevision, the incumbent cable provider to the resort communities surrounding Lake Oconee, Georgia. The transaction will add additional residential and commercial customers to Hargray’s expanding network in Georgia.
“On behalf of our more than 375 Hargray colleagues, we are pleased to announce the acquisition of Plantation Cablevision and the resulting expansion of our already growing presence in Georgia. We look forward to building upon the great communications network constructed by the Hall family over the last 27 years,” said Hargray Chairman & CEO, Michael Gottdenker.
Mark Reinhardt, Hargray’s Director of Integration, noted that, “Hargray is deeply rooted in a number of Georgia communities, and we look forward to the opportunity to join, serve, and engage the local residents, guests, and businesses in the beautiful Lake Oconee region. We will deliver the same high quality suite of residential and commercial services and customer support that we are known for in South Carolina and Southeast Georgia.”
Joel Hall, General Manager of Plantation Cablevision, added, “Serving Lake Oconee, including areas of Putnam and Greene Counties, over the years has been a privilege for the entire Plantation Cable team, and I know I speak for all of our family and employees when I say that we cherish this community and its residents. As we look toward the future of communications and entertainment services, it is our belief that Hargray’s unique combination of technological expertise and community focus makes them the best possible choice to provide advanced services to our community while maintaining the personal touch that our customers value. As we move forward, I will do all I can to ensure this acquisition is a success for Hargray and for our local community.”
Over the next year, Hargray will be investing heavily in Plantation Cablevision’s network to provide nextgeneration products and services like 100 Mbps High Speed Internet, Digital Television with 285+ channels, access to a prime selection of programs on-the-go with TV Everywhere streaming content, and Home Telephone featuring Nationwide Local Calling and enhanced calling features. During this time, there will be no changes to existing services. Existing Plantation Cablevision customers will continue to receive the same services and should continue to pay their bills as in the past.
Plantation Cablevision customers seeking more information about Hargray are encouraged to visit hargray.com/about-us/welcome-plantation-cablevision-customers/ to view recent news and get answers to frequently asked questions or, alternatively, customers may call 888.274.5467 to speak with one of Hargray’s customer care specialists.
Hargray provides Internet, television, and communications services in Beaufort, Jasper, and Hampton counties in South Carolina, and Chatham, Bulloch, Liberty, and Tattnall counties in Georgia. For more information, please visit www.hargray.com.
LOWCOUNTRY LEADERS ANNOUNCE THE CREATION OF THE LOWCOUNTRY BROADBAND PLAN
PLAN WILL BRING GIGABIT INTERNET ACCESS TO RESIDENTS AND BUSINESSES
Beaufort County, S.C. — June 15, 2015 — A group of Lowcountry government and business leaders today announced their commitment to cooperate with Hargray Communications to bring Gigabit Internet service to the Lowcountry. The Lowcountry Broadband Plan paves the way for Hargray to provide Gigabit speeds to residential areas, large and small businesses, and the public via WiFi to common areas and participating resorts. The fiber optic based technology will provide Internet speeds 100 times faster than the national average.
“We are proud to be a partner in this initiative with Hargray,” said Mayor David Bennett. “We have a world-class destination and these investments in our infrastructure will ensure the long-term health and relevance of our community while increasing property values and ensuring Lowcountry businesses have the connectivity they need to compete in a global marketplace.”
“We are fully supportive and appreciative of Hargray and its commitment to ensuring that our community has the very best in telecommunications connectivity” said Mayor Lisa Sulka, “Through the Lowcountry Broadband Plan, Hargray will further establish our area as one of the most technologically advanced places to live, work, and play in the Southeast.”
“The Lowcountry Broadband Plan is a unique plan in our industry and one that would not be nearly as successful without the committed support of our local leaders,” said Michael Gottdenker, Chairman & CEO of Hargray Communications. “We will be making significant investments to make Gigabit Internet service available throughout the Lowcountry, and will prioritize our efforts based on demonstrated demand and support from municipalities, residents, and businesses. Widely available Gigabit services will continue to solidify our position as an emerging technology market that meets the needs of existing businesses, while attracting new ones.”
Hargray, along with local leaders, have established three objectives:
- Provide Gigabit Internet services to residential communities where there is demonstrated demand by residents;
- Deliver Gigabit business services to businesses interested in purchasing such services;
- Provide Gigabit WiFi in public spaces (including certain beach areas).
Discussions amongst the various constituencies are underway, and Hargray looks forward to reporting progress as detailed plans and timelines are finalized.
Hargray provides Internet, television, and communications services in Beaufort, Jasper, and Hampton counties in South Carolina, and Chatham County, Georgia. For more information, please visit our Lowcountry Broadband Media Center, www.hargray.com.
# # #