Q. I'm calling with a question about the local cable company, Mediacom. We just received a bill for my husband's business and for our home about their coming increases. Totaling the increases for businesses is going to be about 22.7 percent when they add up all the increases. In our home package, you create a package, you have a dollar amount that you are supposed to pay monthly and then a month later they add fees saying well this was an increase by the city or some other company or whatever and we can't help these charges. So, my question is to the City of Davenport. Are they looking to get some competition in this area to compete with Mediacom? – Shirley

A. Alternatives such as Dish, DirecTV, Sling TV, etc. are available. Here is a link to a recent article "12 Alternatives To Cable And Satellite TV": http://bit.ly/2svhYlD

We also contacted the City of Davenport and Mediacom regarding your questions and concerns.

Phyllis Peters, communications director, Mediacom, Field Operations Group, responded:

"Yes, there are an increasing number of ways that consumers can receive content (and today, content is more than what is made available from TV stations and cable networks). Consumers can choose Dish Network, DirecTV, or any of the growing number of Over-the-top (OTT) providers. You mentioned Sling TV, and that is one. Other sources can be a combination of Hulu, Netflix, streaming (from the internet to an IP Television), Amazon, CBS All Access, HBO Go and others. Devices like Roku enable people to use a variety of subscription services for the content.

"The issue is this — when it comes to the content (i.e. the sports events or program series or movies and entertainment) — giant entertainment companies own the rights to that content. Mediacom and other cable companies, as well as Dish and DirecTV (satellite TV services) — we are distributors. We must pay fees for all content that we distribute. Programming fees have skyrocketed, and we at Mediacom have been vocal in saying it is not in the consumer's interest, and it is clearly unsustainable. But the leverage is entirely with the program owners. The fees required by TV station owners and programmers seem like a punitive ransom – because when the distributor says 'no, this price is too high to pass along to our customers,' then the program owner simply withholds the content. Each year, there are more and more 'blackout' situations – where the consumers are not allowed to receive programs from a specific distributor like Mediacom or DirecTV unless that distributor pays the higher price.

"Shirley and other customers can call a Mediacom customer service representative and ask about a way to lower their TV subscription – by choosing a set of channels that does not include the cable sports channels. This option is a 'skinnier' bundle – and without the high-cost sports channels, customers reduce their subscription video bill by an (average) of $10 per month." Phyllis Peters' response was edited due to space. To view her full response and additional information provided please visit qctimes.com/askthetimes

Ask the Times appears on Thursdays and Saturdays. You can call 563-333-2632, email ask@qctimes.com or write Ask the Times, Quad-City Times, 500 E. 3rd St., Davenport, IA 52801.