Cox Holds R.I. Rates to 5.7%

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Cox Communications Inc. will boost regulated cable rates in
Rhode Island by an average of 5.7 percent Nov. 1, although some subscribers will actually
see decreases.

However, the MSO may run into trouble in Pawtucket, where
expanding channel lineups at newly rebuilt systems will produce an increase of some 16
percent, bringing the town in line with rates in nearby Providence.

With five new channels added to the local lineup since last
summer, basic and expanded-basic rates in Pawtucket will jump from $15.66 per month to
$18.66 Nov. 1.

Not surprisingly, complaints from local residents are
coming in at a rate equal to the combined grievances logged from Cox's 30 other
locations in Rhode Island, according to state regulators.

But based on Cox's filing with the Division of Public
Utilities, Pawtucket's new rate will still be well below the $21.21 monthly rate
permitted under Federal Communications Commission guidelines, associate division
administrator John Notte said.

"We've gotten some complaints. But about 25
percent [of Cox's 267,130 customers in the state] have been pleasantly surprised,
because they're actually seeing decreases," Notte added.

Cox spokesman John Wolfe said the decreases were the result
of the company folding its "Optional Select Tier" -- which offered Cartoon
Network, The History Channel and ESPN2 -- into its expanded-basic package, thereby shaving
$4.95 per month off some monthly bills.

Moreover, earlier this year, the company added Comedy
Central and Sci-Fi Channel to its lineup in Pawtucket at no additional cost, Wolfe said.

The cost of premium services remains unchanged statewide,
Wolfe added.

In a recent interview with the Providence
Journal-Bulletin
, company officials said the rate increases were strictly a function
of increased programming costs, with sports and news programming leading the way.

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