Cable rates on their way up

Thursday, Jan. 07
NORTH ADAMS -- Subscribers of Time Warner's cable, phone and Internet services will feel the pinch of increasing prices in the coming months. The company has announ-ced monthly rate increases of 3 to 9 percent starting Feb. 1.

Time Warner spokesman Jim Gordon said the increases are a direct result of the increasing fees the company must pay out to program providers such as Fox and Viacom and the increasing cost of doing business.

"There's never a good time to adjust pricing," he said on Wednesday.

"In recent weeks we have been sharing with customers that rising programming fees and operational costs have a real impact on rates." Basic cable rates [channels 2 to 22] will remain the same throughout the county, as those rates are subject to approval by local and state boards. In Northern Berkshire, subscribers pay $8.75 for basic service, while subscribers in the Pittsfield zone pay $9.10 and those in the Lenox and Lee subscriber area pay $11.50.

Gordon said basic rates vary by community, based on the rate history that was established by previous cable providers.

In both North Adams and Pittsfield, subscribers of standard service [channels 2 to 79] will see a $5.50, or 9.7 percent, increase in cost, rising from $56.45 to $61.95. Lee/ Lenox subscribers will see an increase from $55.80 to $61.30.

In all areas price increases include: DigiPic 1000, from $63.95 to $68.95; DigiPic 2000, from $87.95 to $92.95; DigiPic 4000, $140.95 to $144.95; All the Best (cable, phone and Internet), from $139.95 to $146.95; All the Best Premium, $171.95 to $178.95.

"People may recall that a week or more ago we had an ongoing issue with Fox," Gordon said. "While we're happy that issue has come to a close, it leads to a bigger conversation around programming fees, which continue to escalate. As consumers, we always hear when the price of a barrel of oil goes up. We pay more at the pump when that happens. Ultimately, rising programming fees have the same effect on cable rates."

An 11th-hour agreement between, Time Warner and News Corp., the parent company of Fox programming, reached on Dec. 31, avoiding a blackout of stations such as Fox, Fox News and FX, but ultimately costing consumers more.

News Corp. had threatened to pull its programming from Time War-ner's offerings if the company did not agree to a $1 subscriber fee.

Broadcasters such as Fox have traditionally provided their carrier signal for free, while companies such as Viacom and ESPN receive a set amount per cable subscriber to the channel. ESPN reportedly commands a $4 per subscriber fee.


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