Cox Communications Inc. plans to acquire Douglas County
Cable, a small, Time Warner Cable-owned system that it competes against in Omaha, Neb.,
according to sources familiar with the deal.
The Atlanta-based MSO announced its intentions to acquire
Douglas' 5,000 customers in Omaha's affluent western suburbs during a meeting
with city officials last week.
Cox officials did not return calls for comment.
Rod Austin, staff assistant to the city council, said that
barring unforeseen events, the transfer of the system to Cox should go off without a
First, however, the MSO can expect to be quizzed by city
officials about how it plans to explain to subscribers that a dramatic rate hike is in the
offing, Austin said.
Douglas currently charges $19.95 per month for its
61-channel programming package, while Cox charges $26.95 for roughly the same number of
channels, he said.
"The city's going to want to know how
they're going to handle the rate increase, because you can be sure that the subs are
going to notice a $7 difference," Austin said. "Are they going to yank their
chains once, or ease them into it?"
Until now, Omaha had been one of the few U.S. cities with
three cable operators.
The transaction leaves Cox -- which dominates the Omaha
market, with 150,000 subscribers -- and U S West Communications, which offers its
TeleChoice cable service to 17,000 Omaha subscribers.