Unfettered by regulatory oversight, MSOs have decided to
increase their monthly charges, citing more channels and mounting programming costs.
Adelphia Communications Corp. and Comcast Corp. levied rate
increases in several of their systems, according to locally published reports.
For example, subscribers in Buffalo, N.Y., will pay around
9 percent more for basic service starting in August, as the rate will rise to $30.10 per
month from $27.63.
Local Adelphia officials argued that the 9 percent jump is
misleading since it accounts for the inclusion of Disney Channel as part of the basic
package, whereas in the past, customers had to shell out $8.95 per month to get that
In a letter to municipal officials, Adelphia also noted
that it is about to break ground on a new fiber optic cable system that will facilitate
the advent of interactive television and high-speed Internet access.
Adelphia also raised its rates by a comparable 9.3 percent
in August for basic cable in Salem and Roanoke counties in Virginia to compensate for the
addition of seven new channels to its lineup: Animal Planet, C-SPAN2, Food Network, Game
Show Network, Home & Garden Television, MSNBC and TV Land. The two counties account
for 12,500 customers. The total monthly cost will go up from $27.41 to $29.95.
Comcast's increase in Sarasota County, Fla., where it
serves some 100,000 customers, will be around 5.4 percent, or about $1.75 per month for
standard basic-cable service. This increase, also effective in August, was pinned on the
rising costs of adding channels.
Similarly, the operator will also raise the cost of its
third-tier preferred service -- its most popular one -- by 5.4 percent to $36.33 per month
in Palm Beach County, Fla., marking its second increase in the past 10 months. Palm Beach
County customers have received five new channels since the last rate increase: The Box
Music Network, Florida News Channel, GSN, Pax TV and TV Land.
Meanwhile, in Indianapolis, Comcast's full-basic-service
subscribers will see their rates rise in August to a uniform $35.50 per month. The maximum
increase for customers will be $1.81, with the average at 74 cents. Customers pay
different rates depending on service area.
The Indianapolis system also blamed the rate hikes on
growing costs stemming from network expenditures on original programming.
RCN Corp., a competitive cable and telecommunications
provider, also raised its rates, with one New York City location reporting a climb of
nearly 20 percent, from $20.95 per month to $24.95.
According to reports, the Buffalo increase raised the
hackles of at least one local politician.
Common Council president James W. Pitts filed a resolution
recently demanding that Adelphia explain the rate increase at a public hearing and that
the MSO take steps to mitigate its impact on senior citizens and other people with fixed