ESPN, one of the company's most popular networks and the most expensive, has raised its price by 28 percent, passing on the higher cost it's paying for NFL and other sporting event coverage rights, he said.
"We don't really have any other choice other than to take it off," said Hager, who said ESPN and other pricey networks have contracts that prevent the cable company from making them optional to subscribers.
The company has joined with other smaller cable companies in the National Cable Television Cooperative to try to negotiate the best deals possible, he said.
Since removing popular services like ESPN isn't an option, the cable company must raise rates to cover the higher costs, company spokeswoman Cindy Garland said.
"These are all networks that are significantly viewed and those providers know it," Garland said.
Even with the increase, the company's rates will remain the lowest in the area, she said.
A smaller portion of the rate increase is due to 12 new channels, including The History Channel and Home & Garden TV, which were added a little over a year ago, Hager said.
Starting April 1, the cost for the 20-channel limited basic service will go up from about $9.72 to $10.32, the first increase in more than two years, he said.
All but about 1,200 customers opt to receive an additional 35 channels with standard basic service, the price of which will rise from $12.62 to $13.83, Hager said.
The rate for standard basic service went up by about 85 cents in July 1997, he said.
Customers who rent an addressable premier converter, which allows access to premium stations like HBO and Showtime, also will see a 15-cent increase in the $1.42 monthly rental fee, Hager said.
The fee hasn't been raised in more than two years, during which time the company has replaced more than 6,000 old converters, he said.
Rates for premium service and rental for all other types of converters will not increase, Hager said.