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Wyatt Gaylor's picture
Joined: 08/24/2007
Posts: 63
Grass isn't always cheaper...

I was going on the two satellite websites and wanted to see what the cost would be to have the channels that we have currently. The cheapest package that had the majority of the channels we have is $44.99 for DishNetwork and this doesn't include any of the HD channels we DO get and $49.99 for Directv again with No HD Channels.

So if the "cost" is $30 we really are getting a good deal. Granted we would get even more channels but the ones that most of the residents are used to would be on these packages so I am seeing at mininuim a $15 a month extra cost to watch what we are already used to. Would it be nice to take that $30 and use it towards that $45 or $50 per month? Yes, but I don't think everyone else would want to spend more and don't realize there is not a cheaper package that offers what we have.

I am a current DishNetwork subscriber and Cable TV watcher and still feel the $30 a month is worth it and with the upgrades I might even drop Dish.

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Jack Tavolario's picture
Joined: 11/07/2007
Posts: 64
Freedom of choice

If what you say is true, then it makes even more sense for RMA to give everyone the choice. Not only will they be able to sustain the CATV service, but they should also find that with many savvy customers like yourself, the dishes will soon be coming off of houses at an amazing rate!

 

And I say for the record, MORE POWER TO THEM!

 

However, for those who aren’t as savvy as yourself or not quite as concerned about $20 per month, the simple fact is, they deserve a choice. To many of us, this has never really been about quality or quantity of service, as it has been about freedom of choice.

Mike Burnett's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 183
RMA Cable Service has costs buried across their Budget

Wyatt,

RMA has costs for the Cable Services buried across their budget categories.  Just look at the cost for Rod Hart!  He has been managing the Cable Service Projects and I will bet you $100 that his costs are in General Maintenance.  RMA Board and the General Manager have been taking funds from just about everywhere to plow into Cable Services.  So your $30 is BS!

The question here is not whether RMA's cable service is a good deal (knowledgeable people know that is BS), rather it is, should RMA members have a choice to subscribe as do non-members.  You are happy with the service and I am not.  Tell me where RMA has the right or authority to make me pay for this service.  And please don't say it is an RMA Asset. 

The Cable Service Plant (Asset) is spread across the Planned Unit Development (PUD).  Where is there another CID that manges a business which extends outside the Common Interest Boundaries!  There aren't any and the RMA Board is blowing smoke up your skirt everytime the refer to the Cable Service as if it was a tree on RMA's common property.

The Cable Television Agreement provides RMA the right to manage the Cable Service throughout the RMCSD Serving Area.  This responsibility should have been managed by the RMCSD.  It is in their charter of latent powers which was approved back in 1981.  RMA has no mention of managing or providing this type of service in their governing documents.  A child could read these documents and come tho the same conclusion.

Frank Pumilia's picture
Joined: 08/08/2007
Posts: 134
Cable Costs

Mike, just to set the record straight the RMA Finance Committee has had the staff run a pro forma 2008 budget for RMA activities with out the cable department.  This removed all income, expenses and reserves related to the cable, broadband and premium services. The net result would be a reduction in dues of $29.84 per month.  Therefore Wyatt's estimate of $30/mo is pretty close. 

Your reference to cable costs buried in the budget may have merit with the cable department, but the facts are that without the department the RMA is not able to eliminate Management, Accounting or Mainanence. If those people are spending non accounted for time on Cable those costs will still be there but assigned to other areas in the budget that they are working on. 

I have no problem with choice but we should realize that without RMA Cable the choice for TV is Dish or Direct. I have Dish because they have certain programing that I want.  However Wyatt is also correct in his investigation of satilette costs.  I know that to get the channels RMA provides  you need to sign up for the Top 250 if you want Fox News and The Golf Channel and the cost for this plan is $65.97/month with the programming, box rentals and local channels. If you want HD its an extra $20/mo.  In my case I pay $98.87/month but I only have the basic Top 100, one International Channel and HD-DVR service.  I get Fox and Golf from RMA since I pay for it any way.

My point here is that RMA TV is a good deal for those that want that programming, and I think there probably a lot of members that are happy with what they have now that the system is working pretty well .

Wyatt Gaylor's picture
Joined: 08/24/2007
Posts: 63
Frank,   Exactly my point.

Frank,

 

Exactly my point. I do not want to get into the 26 year battle that some membes have been fighting but rather wanted to point out that the alternatives are not as cheap as you may think.

Jeff Pealer's picture
Joined: 09/13/2007
Posts: 38
or AT&T might come out here

or AT&T might come out here with their U-VERSE product. Don't know how much that will be, but might be another option down the road.

 

Wyatt Gaylor's picture
Joined: 08/24/2007
Posts: 63
On AT&T's website the

On AT&T's website the cheapest package is $70 but I do think that includes Internet...Not sure of the channels either.

Wilbur Haines's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 474
Numbers, numbers, numbers

Frank, I'm pretty sure staff arrived at that number by simply substracting out the conclusory budget numbers which themselves have never been audited and verified, include a lot of guesstimation and exclude hidden costs. I'm looking forward to an audit of true costs by Dick Cox and the Finance Committee.

Rod Hart, bless his heart, is killing himself working nearly double shifts doing two jobs while covering for the cable manager we don't have. That is not sustainable. His assistant Theresa is doing double duty handling cable work orders and complaints while still trying to juggle her regular maintenance department duties. That is not sustainable. Our hard-working maintenance crew is deferring other important work while working on cable matters. That is not sustainable. Members continue to have difficulty getting satisfactory response on service calls because our limited staff are so horribly overstretched because they are forced to try to get all this done on a shoestring budget so as to suppress the true cost of running this enterprise. That is not sustainable. All of this non-sustainable juggling is masking the true costs of a sustainable enterprise delivering a quality product and service.

Fox News is available in the dish companies' $45 packages, which are ALL digital and include 200 channels compared to our 40 or whatever. RMA will make you pay a premium for digital services while that desirable upgrade is built into the dish programming cost. RMA also will make you pay for HD services just as the dish companies do. True, Golf Channel is only in the dish companies' upper tiers. That is because in the real world it is a premium channel. Nobody but RMA puts it in their mandatory basic tier. It may surprise you to find how many RMA households have no interest in watching the Golf Channel or the Kings Channel (Comcast Sports) yet we are ALL compelled to pay for those costly channels because "important people" forced them into the mandatory socialized basic tier. Under Freedom of Choice, required to sell basic to voluntary purchasers, RMA would be well advised to consider putting Golf up into a premium tier where by industry standards it belongs, thereby reducing the cost of the basic tier to those who choose to stick with RMA. And I believe many will choose to stay with RMA. I am not one of those who believes Freedom of Choice will kill the system.

AT&T is coming. It's just a matter of when. They, or other cable providers, will come sooner if RMA stops squatting on the market with its mandatory socialized television monopoly and opens the market to free competition. It's the American Way.

Wilbur Haines's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 474
AT&T DIGITAL TV starts at $44

You're right, Wyatt, that AT&T price includes broadband internet. Their TV-only programming starts at $44, about where the satellite companies do (and also all-digital) With RMA's digital upgrade option you'll be paying just about the same amount, perhaps more when comparing the set top box rents, which RMA seems not to have finally settled upon. One of the $44 AT&T packages comes with one DVR and two additional set top boxes wound into that price. RMA will apparently start charging you extra for set top boxes after the first one or two.

 

Here's AT&T's price sheet:

https://uma.att.com/uma/RetrieveAttributeContent?APPID=AMSS&ATTRIBUTECOD...

THe U-Verse front door (if that doesn't work):

https://uverse1.att.com/launchAMSS.do?pid=7875&cdvn=custom

Mike Burnett's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 183
Cable Costs

Frank,

 

I just heard about the Pro Forma Budget watching Channel 5 last night.  That is a good step to compare what the cost would be without the Cable Television Service.  The pro-forma budget does not reflect the RMA costs to provide Cable Service and so you can’t correlate the pro-forma budget to real time costs.  It simply shows how RMA would reset their operating costs without the Cable Service.

 

As you are well aware, there are many hidden costs year over year to keep this system going.  Why can’t anyone present these numbers to properly educate the membership on the total costs?  For example:

 

  1. Approximately $500k was spent on projects in 2007, which equates to roughly $18/month/RMAmembership.
  2. General Maintenance Labor, Equipment, and Materials used on Projects = $/month/RMA membership.
  3. Deferred Maintenance Costs caused by item 2 = $/month/RMA membership.
  4. Deferred Cable Service Maintenance caused by lack of support services = $/month/RMA membership.
  5. Deferred project and Maintenance costs for Cable plant outside of RMA = $/month/RMA membership.
  6. RMA Staff Administrative Services – did you downsize staff with the reduction in Cable Services or simply remove just the direct labor being charged to the Cable Budget?
  7. Fiber Cable Costs – we received free cable ??? We are not going to receive free materials going forward.  This costs should be included in the analysis at the fair market rate. = $/month/RMA membership

 

This is just a quick response without the advantage you have of seeing true costs.  In your pro-forma budget, I understand that you wouldn’t reduce general maintenance costs for personnel such as Rod, because that would allow him to actually focus on his job and not work nights and weekends on the cable service.  However, when the general maintenance staff is not working on general maintenance tasks, who is getting that work done.  This is what I mean by deferred maintenance. 

 

I know from first hand experience that the RMA Staff is not performing requisite preventative maintenance on our cable service.  This is deferred maintenance and is real hard dollars and cents.  You can’t dismiss costs that aren’t being performed because our staff isn’t focusing resources on the right activities.  Is RMA filing the requisite reports with the FCC yet?  To file these reports requires annual testing and analysis by a competent company.  When I was on the Board, they weren’t and intentionally misinformed the Communications Committee.  The last test they did by Phil Jarvis identified many deficiencies that required corrective work requests.  There is deferred maintenance again.

 

Does RMA even have a line item in the budget for deferred maintenance?  So until someone has the information and the guts to produce year over year actual costs. I don’t buy into the “blue plate special” version of what the monthly cable service costs are.  My best guess tells me it is closer to $60/month/RMA membership

 

Frank Pumilia's picture
Joined: 08/08/2007
Posts: 134
Cable Costs

Mike and Wilbur,

I agree competely with all your points about what is now happening and what transpired in the past regarding cable. 

My only point was that the pro forma 2008 budget with out "ANY CABLE EXPENSES' assumes we are out of the business and do not need the department. 

This results in the $29.84 dues reduction. 

If the option of allowing individuals to opt out, is approved, the cable will not survive....and those wanting TV service now will need a Dish.   AT&T if they ever show up or what ever service comes down the pike maybe an option some day but for now it's satillete. 

Whats past is done... and with no TV department everyone's dues will go down, period...... and their cost for TV will be whatever service they choose to buy costs them.

That's all I was pointing out...

Mike Burnett's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 183
Thanks Frank

Frank,

Thanks for the clarification. 

I was concerned that some members would take your numbers and assume the difference between the pro-forma budget and our current dues, $137 - $107 = $30, was all the costs we pay for Cable Services, when in fact it is much higher.  

 

Jack Tavolario's picture
Joined: 11/07/2007
Posts: 64
Contingency plans

Frank,

 

Are you guarantying a dues reduction or are you saying there will be $29.84 that wouldn’t be needed to run the place? The only reason I ask is, I remember from my days back on the Fin Comm, that once some money was coming in, even if there was some kind of way to save some of the money needed, it was mighty difficult to get the BOD to actually lower the dues.

 

I’ve already publicly said that if there ever did come a time when I had a choice about CATV, I’d opt out, but that I wouldn’t have a great objection to not having my dues lowered, providing that money was set aside for some of the projects we’ve all heard about for so long but very likely won’t see happen in our lifetime.

 

FI, a community center, a REAL bike/walking trail system, REAL restroom facilities out at Clementia. In fact, I wouldn’t mind seeing a building such as he one at Stonehouse out there, that has restrooms and a snack bar facility that could be used by large groups to cook things like hotdogs and sell other snacks. I’d sure be amenable to a few more Maintenance full time employees, a complete overhaul of all of our maps, an RMA tennis facility on the north like the one on the south, some neighborhood parks on those little pieces of land we have all over the place, like at the end of Murieta N Pky. Heck, I’d think a lot of folks would be pretty pleased to see RMA put up a place for parking things like boats and RV’s like the Village has.

 

In short, there are a heck of a lot of things people have suggested over the years that would be a huge benefit to the community that that $29.84 could be used for. Can you tell us if there has been any contingency planning along those lines?  

John T. Weatherford's picture
Joined: 08/06/2007
Posts: 66
Contingency planning

Of course there hasn't! Money mouth

John T Weatherford

Mike Burnett's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 183
Contingency Plans

Jack T.

I second that motion, discussion.........All in favor?

Wilbur Haines's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 474
Are we finally going to see the new stuff?

In November 2006, sixteen months ago, it was reported here on RM.com that:

"By early January, RMA cable will offer the 70-channel
enhanced digital programming package for $24.99 a month, 40 premium
channels for $39.99 more, and the package of additional high-definition
channels for an extra $9.99, Stiffler said. "

http://www.ranchomurieta.com/localnews/cabletv112806.html

That was January 2007 Dave was talking about, BTW. NOT last month.

From the statements at this month's BOD meeting it appears that the rollout of those products may at long last be imminent.

It will be interesting to see how the sales go. That information is probably quite salient to the BOD's response to the overwhelming landslide vote on Freedom Of Choice. Thus far they have failed to respond beyond noting the results and stating it is unsurprising that the overwhelming majority of residents would prefer to be free to buy their TV services elsewhere and not be forced to continue subsidizing this enterprise with their involuntary dues. Conspicuously absent was any recognition that they must incorproate "Freedom of Choice" into any "Plan B" transfer of the system as well as incorporating it into "Plan A," the continued operation of the system by RMA.

Jack Tavolario's picture
Joined: 11/07/2007
Posts: 64
Why?

Does anyone know the REAL reason the BOD doesn’t simply say it’s every customer’s choice who they want to provide their TV services?

 

If what Frank said is true, and since he’s been on Fin Comms out here when there were still Mammoths roaming the area, I believe what he’s saying, that the CATV system will die, that’s one reason. But, that doesn’t address why RMA should care.

 

I’ve heard some folks say that the BOD feels the CATV agreement forces RMA to keep providing it, but I don’t know how true that is.

 

I’ve said it was my opinion that RMA sees the CATV system as a cash cow they don’t want to see sneak away, but that’s only a layman’s opinion with no proof substantiating it.

 

There’s been all kinds of people putting words into the BOD’s mouth, but I’m still pretty fuzzy about what the BOD is really saying. Is there any OFFICIAL line, or has there been any OFFICIAL statement?

John T. Weatherford's picture
Joined: 08/06/2007
Posts: 66
GOLD

Although not official, Jack Copper stated to me in a private conversation that he thinks there is "unmined Gold" in this system. He admitts he doesn't know what it is, he just thinks there is. Money mouth

John T Weatherford

Wilbur Haines's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 474
Are WE the gold?

John, those repeated references to all the untapped value in the system make me very nervous that the BOD may not realize they cannot sell us as captive customers.  The fear that if they let us go voluntary they won't be able to make money off us has pervaded this debate for over a year.

If they can make money while giving those of us who want out our freedom, all the power to them, I say. But I fear they keep sniffing at ways of making money out of our bondage.

I wish the Board would acknowledge straight up that "Plan B" will not consist of a new form of involuntary conscription. But they balk at saying this.

I wish we had held the meeting with the vendor Jack has been talking to. We should be moving forward with the process of exploring the alternatives. Knowing who the mystery suitors are, and the shape of the idea being contemplated, beats the heck out of sitting here in the dark guessing and, based on past history, suspecting the worst.

Wilbur Haines's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 474
"Real" reasons are elusive

is it a wonderfully valuable asset, as sometimes is said, or is it an albatross hung around our necks by the Cable Agreement, as is sometimes said? The official statements span all the territory in between.

The Cable Agreement is a very manageable problem. RMA refuses to ask them, but the developers would release RMA from that "must serve" obligation in a New York minute if a Freedom Of Choice provider was available to their properties. All they want is to be able to tell the Dept. of Real Estate and prospective purchasers that TV service is available and from whom. That agreement was signed when there was NO other way to get TV out here without an unsightly fifty foot antenna (which was banned), if at all. If RMA could lure a real TV company out here, the developer would be ecstatic to be able to tell prospective purchasers they could get Comcast or Surewest or AT&T TV services. But to attract a real TV provider out here RMA has to open the market to competition and quit trying to protect its monopoly.

The chances of luring out a company who would take RMA off the hook would be greatly enhanced by not deterring them by insisting on money the system's not worth to them, and not trying to artificially pump the value by pretending that they can sell each of us to a private cable company as conscripts, against which we will surely rebel.

If RMA can attract enough voluntary premium customers with their new digital, premium and HDTV offerings, they can make a go of it and still accommodate the members' clear preference that basic service be voluntary as well. For awhile, at least, until AT&T inevitably gets out here with their U-Verse offering which uses the phone lines as they do for, DSL and as a result doesn't require RMA's system or cooperation at all. And they will eventually get here, as they intend to blanket the nation with it.

RMA TV is living on borrowed time no matter what. The question is whether RMA proactively seeks a way out or drags its feet, and whether in the meantime it continues to abuse its members who want out of forced socialized TV subscription NOW.

Jeff Pealer's picture
Joined: 09/13/2007
Posts: 38
AT&T will get out here. They

AT&T will get out here. They did with DSL and with a community this big, I am sure it will be a money maker in the long run.

They want to offer it all and get to their customer's TVs...

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