Japanese cable firm may pull plug around Yokosuka
Stars and Stripes June 25, 2003
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Almost everyone wants their MTV.
But apparently too many Americans at Yokosuka want it for free.
Service provider JCOM said it’s facing a 50 percent delinquency rate on cable television and Internet subscriptions by status of forces agreement-sponsored personnel living around Yokosuka Naval Base.
So JCOM is threatening to unplug all of its American subscribers unless the slackers pay up.
While they would not provide specific numbers of unpaid accounts or total amount owed, JCOM officials said Monday the situation has reached a breaking point.
During his weekly call-in program — shown on base television and broadcast locally on the area American Forces Network radio station — Yokosuka base commander Capt. Michael Seifert confirmed receiving a complaint from the company.
“Because of a few bad seeds — but we can’t really say a few since it’s so many people — even if you’re paying your bill, you might lose your service,” Seifert said.
JCOM is the major provider of high-speed cable Internet and cable television for off-base residents. Typically, a monthly charge for Internet and premium cable is 7,900 yen, or roughly $70.
“That will all go away. You’ll have nothing unless you pay your bill,” Seifert said. “This will be one of those situations where the company is going to make the decision and could pull the plug.”
According to Navy officials, JCOM has sent Yokosuka base a list of customers who have not paid their bills.
Those names “will go out to commands,” Seifert said. “If you PCS, we will try to track down those people as well at their next commands or wherever they end up.”
Officials offered a number of possible explanations for having so many delinquent subscribers:
• People who transfer away from Yokosuka might simply have left without paying.
• Others might not have paid because they were moving from off-base housing to on-base quarters.
• Off-base residents may have switched to a satellite system allowing them to receive American Forces Network programming. They may have done so without canceling their JCOM subscriptions.
But none of that explains why at least half of the SOFA-sponsored JCOM subscribers failed to pay.
“I’m going to be really pissed off if I lose my cable and Internet because someone else decided they don’t have to pay their bills,” Teresa McCoy said last Friday as she stood in line at the Navy Exchange to pay her own cable bill.
Officials at Americable, the provider of cable television on base, said they do not have delinquency rates that approach those claimed by JCOM.
— Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.