This resulted in widespread uproar from the public and their customers in particular, with consumers accusing the largely government-owned company of being insensitive to the already harsh economic conditions.
Cable customers also argued against the substantial increases, in some case by 100% (for additional boxes), even though the company was not providing any immediate improvements to their services.
Recognizing that the public was not in favour and citizens were speaking out via the media, expressing their dissatisfaction in the actions of the company, of which government owns approximately 70% of the shares, the government is on Tuesday (22nd January), promising to reverse the measure, at least for the immediate period. But with an election expected on the island anytime soon, members of the public are already accusing the government of being political and stating that once the elections are called and are over, the rates will be increased as planned.
Consumers point to the similar action that was taken by the government just before the 2010 elections with a surcharge on electricity. Once the elections were over, the cost of electricity was given a sharp increase. Members of the public are therefore skeptical about the latest promise by the government with respect to the planned cable television rate increases.
Minister of Information, Sen. Nigel Carty said Cabinet members were very concerned about the decision which the company had made with regard to the proposed rate increase. However, one opposition politician has rebuffed that notion, indicating that the decision to increase the rates in the first place must have been approved by government and the same Cabinet of Ministers, because of the majority ownership and the fact that the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Cable Company is determined by the government. At present the Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Cable is also the Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Joesph Llewellyn Edmeade. the company is however managed by Mr. Bil Ewing, who is the other minority owner.
This is what Mr. Carty added in his post Cabinet briefing. “Having regard to the need to minimize inflation and contain the cost of living, Cabinet agreed to make an intervention to prevent the increase in cable TV rates. In fact, members were convinced that alternatives will have to be explored to narrow the gap between costs and revenues that the company appears to be concerned about. This matter of costs and revenue, it was concluded, has to be studied more carefully to arrive at a clearer picture of the current situation facing The Cable Company.”
Mr. Carty said Cabinet “was of the view that cable TV has become a way of life for ordinary poor people in our country and that the proposed increase would make it even more difficult, if not impossible, for some nationals to afford this modern necessity.”