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State  Last Updated: Feb 5th, 2009 - 07:50:22

Lawmakers Push for 'Basic' Cable Package
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Two state lawmakers are pushing Mediacom to provide a more affordable, basic cable television package to their constituents in southeastern Sussex County.

State Rep. Gerald W. Hocker (R-Ocean View) and State Sen. George H. Bunting (D-Bethany Beach) have approached Mediacom -- the only cable company in southeastern Sussex -- to offer a base package that would cost about $15 per month.

"I'm especially concerned because there are a significant number of retired people who live here on fixed incomes," Rep. Hocker said. "Senator Bunting and I would like our constituents to have the option of subscribing to a less expensive, basic tier of service."

Mediacom currently offers only one tier of service costing about $50 per month including taxes.

Rep. Hocker said many seniors must choose between paying a high price for dozens of channels they don't use or doing without TV. Southeastern Sussex, which is distant from any major TV market, is inadequately served by the broadcast television networks, Rep. Hocker said.

According to the Delaware Public Service Commission (PSC), Mediacom has expressed a willingness to explore that possibility. 

The lower level of service, known as a "skinny" basic cable television package, would include only the major broadcast networks and cable news operations. Such a package should cost subscribers no more than $15 per month.

"This is an issue of significant importance to both Senator Bunting and me," Rep. Hocker said. "We both realize that TV is not a luxury, itís an essential source of news and information. Having TV in the homes of seniors also helps combat feelings of isolation that affect too many of our older residents."

The two legislators are tentatively expected to meet with Mediacom officials at the end of the month to discuss the issue.

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