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Why is Charter our only choice?

I just sent off my latest check to Charter for the mandatory “new and improved” digital services. As usual, this entails an increase in monthly fees. Since Charter is the only “choice” for a cable provider in the city of Medford, the question begs: Who in city government is watching out for us? Does our fine City Council just rubber stamp the outrageous Charter fees, or would it entertain the concept of perhaps allowing another vendor the opportunity of providing alternative cable/Internet services. It seems the council is not interested in looking out for the folks in this city. Food for thought in the next election. — Ted K., Medford.

If you’ve ever heard the city councilors discuss Charter, Ted, you’d realize they have their own beefs about the cable provider. It’s not like we have cable service providers beating down our doors, so Charter’s been the main cable game in town. However, many residents have switched over to a satellite dish television.

City Councilor Daniel Bunn said the council has often expressed frustration about Charter in the past, and the city would welcome another provider.

“It’s not an exclusive franchise,” he said.

However, the expense of installing cable and other improvements doesn’t make it easy for someone else to move in, Bunn said.

“Nobody wants to do it,” he said. “It would require a huge, upfront capital investment.”

Bunn said the council does approve the Charter franchise, and he said most councilors think it’s not up to them to tell a company how to conduct its business.

Also, getting another cable company wouldn’t necessarily result in lower rates, he said.

Despite your feelings about Charter, Ted, we can offer you some comfort in the realization that Comcast is in the process of acquiring Charter’s operations in Oregon as part of a massive telecommunications deal. But Comcast isn’t saying what it will charge for service in our fair city, though it is saying that it will offer the Pac-12 games.

If the federal government approves the takeover, Comcast will become the cable provider in Southern Oregon by next summer.

Charter has about 11,000 customers in Medford.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.