Antietam Cable will increase rates

March 03, 1998|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Antietam Cable will increase rates

The average cable customer in Washington County will pay nearly $22 more a year starting April 1, when Antietam Cable Television starts passing on higher programming costs through service rate increases, company officials said Monday.

The cable company, which has about 34,000 customers in the county, will increase the combined charge for limited and standard basic services from about $22.34 to $24.15, according to President and General Manager Gene Hager.

The bulk of the $1.81 - or 8.1 percent - monthly increase is due to a significant rise in what networks like ESPN, The Discovery Channel and WTBS charge the cable company per subscriber to carry their programming, Hager said.


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.

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