SIKESTON - Despite Charter Communications' choice of
actor-comedian Dan Aykroyd as their new advertising
spokesman, Sikeston Charter Cable customers aren't
likely to find a coming price hike very funny.
Charter Communications announced in September they
will raise rates $3.95 a month for expanded basic
cable service for St. Louis-area customers, according
to a Sept. 26 St. Louis Post-Dispatch business section
Dave Huntsman, general manager for Charter
Communications in Sikeston, confirmed Sikeston
customers, too, "will see a rate increase in that
range" sometime in December or January as rate
increases are planned for Charter cable customers
"across the whole nation."
According to the St. Louis-Dispatch, Charter had
planned to increase rates in St. Louis and St. Louis
County on Nov. 1 but postponed the effective date to
Dec. 1 after the terrorist attacks on New York and
Huntsman said the price increase for Sikeston area
customers will be announced when the exact amount is
Customers typically are always "upset with any kind of
rate increase," said Huntsman. He said Charter is
offering additional programming and services such as
digital cable and stereo sound as well as having
recently completed system upgrades and rebuilds in
Sikeston and other markets. "This is just something we
foresee needs to be done for us."
In June, Huntsman dealt with complaints from area
residents who received higher cable bills as a result
of Charter "collapsing" existing plans into a new
price structure. Backdated credits were promised for
Sikeston area customers who were billed for expanded
cable but only wanted basic cable.
Doug Friend, city manager, said he has seen the
article regarding Charter cable price hikes but
declined to offer comment as the city had not received
any word of it yet. The city must be advised 30 days
prior to the price being raised, according to Friend.
Charter Communications purchased Falcon Cable in
November 1999. A long-term franchise agreement with
Charter Communications was delayed again in favor of
another extension of the existing franchise agreement
through Dec. 4 during an Aug. 20 special City Council
Huntsman has said his company is hoping to reach a
10-year franchise agreement with the city rather than
continuing the yearly extensions used for the last
Negotiations for a long-term franchise agreement had
been put on hold while city officials waited for
Charter to complete their system upgrades and for city
staff to research recent cable franchise agreements.
The current franchise agreement is nearly 20 years
"City staff and representatives of Charter have a
meeting scheduled near the end of October to discuss
various franchise renewal options," said Friend.
Charter Communications' purchase of Falcon Cable also
resulted in Charter taking over Falcon's management of
Enstar Properties' cable systems in cities including
Dexter, Bloomfield and Poplar Bluff - a practice
Charter prefers to avoid. "Charter has been looking to
sell the Enstar properties since November 1999," said
Mark Stidham, Dexter's city administrator, said Dexter
and Bloomfield are "just at the preliminary stage" of
bidding on their cable system.
"We sent a non-binding letter of intent," said
Stidham. "We're just sort of waiting." Stidham said
this is the third letter of intent they have
Dexter and Bloomfield offered to pay a set amount per
subscriber, but Stidham declined to give a ballpark
figure as there are other parties bidding on the
system as well.
Unlike the Sikeston system which was recently
upgraded, the Dexter-Bloomfield area cable system is
older and will require a lot of capital investment,
according to Stidham.
Stidham said in the event the cities are able to buy
the system, they would probably hire a firm to manage
and upgrade the system "and bring it up to par before
we even attempt to manage a cable company ourselves."
Poplar Bluff's offer to purchase their cable system
was accepted in August, according to Huntsman.
Information from a Sept. 26 St. Louis Post-Dispatch
business section article by Jerri Stroud was used for