Cablevision To Hike TV Rates 2.9% In 2011

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Cablevision Systems subscribers will see their cable TV bills rise an average of 2.9% next year, the cable operator announced Friday, while it said standard pricing for broadband and voice services will remain unchanged for the eighth consecutive year.

The Bethpage, N.Y.-based MSO said the new cable television prices will take effect over the next few months, depending on a customer's specific location and billing cycle. The MSO raised rates 3.7% in 2010, and averaged a 3.5% increase in 2009.

"We have worked hard and been successful in recent years holding our cable television price adjustment down to an average increase of about 3%, a trend that will continue in 2011, even given the impact of higher programming costs," Cablevision senior vice president of product management John Trierweiler said in a statement.

Cablevision on Oct. 30 ended a two-week retransmission-consent standoff with News Corp., during which three Fox stations were unavailable on the MSO's systems. Cablevision said it agreed to pay "an unfair price" for multiple channels of Fox programming.

"In the end, our customers will pay more than they should for Fox programming, but less than they would have if we had accepted the unprecedented rates News Corp. was demanding when they pulled their channels off Cablevision," Cablevision said in a statement following the resolution of the dispute.

The operator noted that in the past year, it has added nine free HD channels across its service area -- ABC Family, Disney Channel, Disney XD, ESPNews, ESPNU, MSG Varsity, Nat Geo Wild, Telefutura and Univision -- and has continued to add free video-on-demand programming, including primetime shows from ABC and NBC and content from ABC Family, Telemundo, TBS, TNT, Turner Classic Movies and The Weather Channel.

More than 80% of Cablevision customers take more than one of the company's video, voice and Internet products, and two-thirds of new customers take all three when first establishing service, under its Optimum Triple Play package, which has been offered since 2004.

Cablevision has some 3 million video customers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, with an industry-leading digital penetration rate of 96%. It counts 2.6 million high-speed Internet and 2.1 million Optimum Voice customers.