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We must protect the poor, under-privileged


Fri, Jul 09, 2010

Editor: Karib Cable is the sole cable television provider in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. A previous monopoly experience has shown that this capitalist privilege is to the customers’ detriment.{{more}} We were misled into believing that monthly cable charges would be reduced in harmony with corresponding subscribers’ increase. However, we looked on hopelessly as basic monthly cable cost climbed from $50 to $90 (proposed): a whopping 80% increase over a ten-year period!

One wonders if comprehensive market analyses were ever carried out during these constant increases. Barring the VAT-induced increase ($65 to $74), the increases are not economically justifiable since subscribers increased by three-fold during the insuring years. One might argue that capitalism works on the maxim that maximized profits lead to business expansion. In Karib Cable’s case it is a matter of capitalizing on the naivety and economic vulnerability of its clientele.

In the Karib Cable’s scheme of things, the poor appear to be factored out of its market thrust. The rich, therefore, consolidate their status as commercialism contrives against the poor. Evidence of this is reflected in the exorbitant costs and conditions associated with the changing over from analogue to digital tv. For instance, cable subscribers are forced to purchase an additional BOX for each television set under the same entity! This is absurdity of the highest order since a monthly cost is also charged on each additional BOX/TV.

Economic wisdom dictates that Karib Cable charges each customer for one BOX and provides split connectivity for homes with multiple television sets. Obviously, such homes would be expected to pay the additional cost per extension. The problem of some subscribers being involved in “connection stealings” will always arise since life is unfair and the world is not a level place. Proactive laws should’ve been enacted to minimize these nefarious practices a long time ago.

Make no mistake, digital tv is accompanied with positives such as enhanced picture quality and greater channel variety. This diversity in choices and preferences lends itself to greater customer satisfaction. Even the Serians/Arabs living among us can now view Al Jazeera TV! That is why it is vital that households be encouraged to own as many television sets. However, the Karib Cable costs and conditions seek to invariably encourage the opposite.

It is, therefore, imperative that Karib Cable and the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC) engage in meaningful dialogue that would result in a more equitable deal for all concerned. Let it not retrogress to the extent that many cable subscribers have to resort to analogue tv since in effect no Digital Set Top box means no cable tv! Karib Cable should show its economic responsibility to its customers and avoid this crisis reaching ECTEL.

Meanwhile, let’s be vigilant and wise consumers. We must dismiss the notion that we are a docile people who are only activated when our politicians beckon. Let us demonstrate our disapproval to Kelly Glass and company in a unified front. Remember, it only takes a spark to get the fire going. I, therefore, implore all influential activists to lead the charge. We must protect the poor and under-privileged that are inhibited by capitalist vultures from enjoying the simple pleasures of life. Karib Cable, it’s your corporate responsibility to respect your customers. Remember, monopoly can be broken.

Collin CA$H Haywood