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Cablevision’s Rate Hikes to Be Moderate

Cablevision Systems Corp. will raise rates on its video offerings an average of 3.2% beginning in January and February, while keeping rates for its "Optimum Online" high-speed-data service and its "Optimum Voice" Internet-telephony product the same.

In a prepared statement, Cablevision said the average price increase for its three video services -- basic cable, "Family" cable (expanded basic) and "iO: Interactive Optimum" digital cable -- would be about $1.59 per month.

This is one of the lowest rate increases Cablevision has imposed in years -- last year, the average increase was about 5.3%, and rates rose 5.5% and 7% in 2001 and 2000, respectively -- despite rising programming costs.

Cablevision said in the statement that the price adjustment reflects higher programming costs, increased investments in customer service and network improvements to enhance service reliability. The MSO added that its programming costs have risen about 13% this year.

Increases will vary depending on the level of service and the customer’s location.

For example, the average bill for Family cable -- one of Cablevision’s most popular packages -- will rise about $1.51 per month, or around 3.53%.

Premium digital packages will increase an average of $2 per month -- "iO Silver" will rise from $64.95 per month to $66.95 and "iO Gold" will go from $84.95 to $86.95. However, the entry price for iO service -- $9.95 per month -- will remain unchanged.

Current pricing for Optimum Online is $49.95 per month for a stand-alone service and $44.95 for cable customers at the Family cable level or above.

Optimum Voice, launched in September, is available across Cablevision’s 2.8 million-subscriber footprint in the New York metropolitan area and is priced at $34.95 per month for unlimited local, regional and long-distance calls.

Most price increases will take effect in January and February, although some systems in the Hudson Valley area of New York won’t see increases until June.