Why It Costs So Much

Every argument has two sides. Here, Daniel MacKenzie, manager of marketing operations and pay-per-view entertainment at United Artists Cable in the East San Fernando Valley, tells where some of those cable dollars go:

* Programming: The evolution in original cable programming means rising production costs for cable networks, costs which get passed along to cable operators. "We pay for every single network that we carry," MacKenzie said. "It might be 5 cents or 30 cents per network per subscriber--and with 80,000-plus subscribers, that gets pretty expensive."

* Labor: "Doing business in the state of California has gone up. Every time we roll a truck (on a service call), it costs about 30 to 50 bucks, depending partially on the unions and what time of day you're sending them out. And, on that same subject, we come out to your house for free. Not a lot of other companies will do that--the phone company doesn't."

* Construction: "Overhead cable costs about $8,000 a mile. A mile of underground cable is about $64,000."

MacKenzie encourages his subscribers to come down and tour the plant to see what they're paying for. He also points out that a month of cable TV is a lot cheaper than taking a family of four to a Dodgers game: "When you compare it to other forms of entertainment, it's not a bad deal."

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