Charter Communications will raise a number of its rates in March,
including an increase in the cost of basic service that will affect
nearly all its cable subscribers.
Almost all Charter customers will see modest hikes for basic
service. But the big increases will come in the area of field visits,
which will skyrocket by as much as $16 in one category.
In Burbank and Glendale, the monthly cost of basic service will go
from $12.84 to $13.49. In Montrose, La Crescenta and La Canada
Flintridge, the basic service rate will change from $13.30 to $13.49.
The increase is part of an effort to standardize rates throughout
Southern California, Charter spokeswoman Sandra Magana said.
The cost of expanded basic service will increase $1.20 in Burbank
and Glendale and $2.18 in the foothill areas, bringing the monthly
cost in all areas to $30.46. While there are no changes in the cost
of digital services, those subscribers will still be affected by the
increases in basic and expanded service.
“Anyone who signs up for cable is part of our basic service,”
Magana said. “It will impact every subscriber to cable.”
The only subscribers who won’t see a rate hike are senior basic
subscribers in Burbank and Glendale, whose rates have remained fixed
since 1997, Magana said.
The cost for certain types of field visits will increase as much
as $16 for analog and digital customers. While the increases in some
cases nearly double the cost of such service, Magana said relatively
few customers will be affected. Few customers have analog service,
and digital service rarely requires a service visit, she said.
Burbank’s and Glendale’s franchise agreements with Charter give
them control only of hikes in the basic service rate, which has not
been increased since 2001. While a consultant is investigating the
proposed increases, city of Glendale spokesman Ritch Wells said they
appear to be within the parameters set by the FCC and the company’s
negotiated contract with the city.
“Our job is to monitor the rate increases, and we’re doing that to
the best of our abilities,” he said.
The contract between Charter and the city expires in 2005, but
Wells said officials from the city and the cable company already have
begun discussing renewing that agreement.
The city of Burbank also is investigating the proposed rate hike,
but spokesman Michael McManus declined to comment on whether the city
plans to oppose the increases. Wells and McManus said the number of
complaints about Charter have fallen dramatically since a Burbank
call center was opened.
“Problems arise from time to time, but we get a hold of Charter
and try to work through them,” McManus said.
Cable costs in Burbank and Glendale are roughly comparable to
providers in surrounding areas. An 81-channel lineup through Charter
in Burbank and Glendale costs $42.10. An 80-channel lineup through
Altrio Communications in Pasadena costs $39.95, while a 72-channel
lineup through Adelphia in Santa Monica costs $47.50, company