Getting lines crossed over cable quality

I am sorry Torin Douglas has such a negative opinion of cable TV and of Videotron (MW October 27). Reassuringly, he is not typical of Videotron’s customers nor of consumers in the UK. Where it is available, cable has a higher market penetration than dishes and each month more people connect to cable than to satellite.

Mr Douglas has not looked at cable television from the consumer’s perspective nor from that of a marketer. Videotron is dedicated to offering its customers quality, flexibility and value in a way which differentiates cable from satellite.

l Quality: Mr Douglas is preoccupied with quantity not quality. We do not carry every channel launched by Sky or by other companies. We only carry the best. And how do we know this? We do what any professional marketer does, we look at what our customers think and watch.

If you examine the STAR cable and satellite audience reports you will find all the most popular channels are on our line-up. Some of the channels Mr Douglas misses, such as Sky Soap, Family and Country Music Television are the least popular. Until recently Live TV, although not shown on STAR figures, has been almost unwatchable. It is now getting better and we hope to carry it. Every channel Videotron carries receives a quarterly satisfaction rating from our customers.

Flexibility: Unlike BSkyB, we believe in offering our customers flexibility to choose which channels they receive. Can you imagine a supermarket which would only allow you to shop if you bought a basket of soap powder, jam, chicken, wine etc? Of course not. Yet this is the way most of the industry treats its customers. Videotron allows you to pick the services you want, not insist you take everything. Sky customers have no choice but to start with the entire Multi-Channels package.

Value: If Mr Douglas compares the cost of a cable subscription with the equivalent satellite package including installation, equipment rental and servicing, he will find little difference. If, like many of our customers, he requires a second cable outlet he can get this at just 3.99 a month. With satellite he would need to buy a second decoder and take out a second, full-price subscription to Sky programming.

New media: By dropping our service, Mr Douglas will be forsaking interactive television, our interactive games and educational information services. He will also be foregoing ten local and cable-exclusive channels we carry. He need not miss out on our money-saving telephone service as this can be bought separate from our television service.

Mr Douglas repudiates cable’s claim to be “the delivery system of the future”, yet ITC research shows people overwhelmingly prefer to get multichannel television from cable rather than satellite. Perhaps that’s because consumers realise cable is the delivery system of today as well.

Peter Howard

Group director

Product Marketing & Programming

Videotron

London W14

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