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Antietam Cable calls rate hikes "necessary"

July 29, 2000

Antietam Cable calls rate hikes "necessary"



By JOSH POLTILOVE / Staff Writer


Citing inflation and increases in the cost of programming fees, Antietam Cable will raise its rates Tuesday.

Limited basic cable fees will rise from $10.32 to $10.62, while standard basic will rise from $25.17 to $26.75.

ESPN, CNN, TNT and other networks that have licensing fees have raised their prices substantially, and that is a major factor in Antietam's price increase, said Cindy Garland, director of special projects for Antietam Cable. The company serves Hagerstown and much of Washington County.

Generally, programmers establish rates based on what they have to pay for programming, and when those rates increase, fees increase, Garland said.

"It's a necessary increase. We do everything we can to keep cost increases to a minimum, and that's the truth," said Garland, who added that it has been more than two years since the company adjusted its limited basic rate.

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Since last year, there has been an 18 percent increase in the licensing fees many of the most popular cable channels charge cable companies, Antietam Cable President V. Gene Hager said in a release.

"Unfortunately, Antietam Cable has no control over certain external costs," Hager said in the release.

Antietam Cable, which serves 45,393 households, according to its Web site, still will have lower prices than its competitors.

Even with Antietam's rate change, it still will charge less than the current rates of other local cable companies.

GS Communications, which has locations in Frederick and Washington counties in Maryland and Berkeley and Jefferson counties in West Virginia, will charge nearly $2 more for minimum basic service and more than $4 more for basic. Comcast Cable, located in Pennsylvania, still will charge $4 more for minimum service and about $4 more for basic.

Both companies also recently raised their rates.

"As you can see, for basically the same kind of programming, our rates are dollars lower a month than any other system in our area and many in the country," Garland said. "That reflects how hard we work in the community to keep costs at a minimum."

Antietam offers 20 channels in its limited basic package and 58 standard basic channels, including MTV, ESPN and CNN. Like the other cable companies, it charges viewers extra for HBO, Showtime, and other premium channels.

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