Prestige raises rate for basic cable by 6.7%

February 11, 1993|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

Prestige Cablevision customers will pay $1.49 more for monthly basic cable service, beginning March 15, company officials said yesterday.

Rates for the 42-channel basic service will rise from $22.15 to $23.64, or 6.7 percent, which includes a 3 percent franchise fee imposed by the county and towns, said Bill Bethune, the firm's general manager. Excluding that franchise fee, rates will rise from $21.50 to $22.95.

Fees for other services, including premium channels, a lower tier of cable channels and use of remote controls, will not increase, Mr. Bethune said.

He said the firm's 22,500 customers were told of the increase in their February bills, which were mailed earlier this month. County and town officials also have been notified, he said.

The increase, Mr. Bethune said, stems from rising operating and programming costs. The Georgia-based firm added two channels, American Movie Classic and E entertainment, since a $1.65-a-month rate increase was imposed in March 1992, he said.

"We held off as long as we could," Mr. Bethune said. "Programming costs continue to increase each year. We've added some employees, and our systems continue to grow. We continue to run cable to more rural areas of the county."

He said the firm's agreement with the county requires Prestige to provide service in areas with at least 35 homes per linear mile. The firm, he said, has been extending service into areas with 22 to 25 homes per linear mile, which is more costly.

Hampstead Town Manager John Riley, who serves as the town's liaison to the county's cable committee, said the rate increase would prompt complaints from subscribers.

"No one is going to be happy about it," he said. "I guess that's just the name of the game [cable companies] play. It's the nature of the beast. The customer ultimately has control -- they can cancel their service if they're not happy."

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