BY JOHN ECKBERG
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Time Warner Cable will raise rates about 4.9 percent in January for most of the company's 225,000 subscribers.
Customers began receiving letters Tuesday indicating that rates would rise for the 65-channel "standard" service tier, which includes the Lifeline-Basic array of 23 channels.
That combination is used by about 90 percent of Time Warner customers. The price for the Lifeline-Basic service will drop about 10 to 25 cents in most communities, said Jennifer Mooney, Time Warner vice president for public affairs.
The boost is about three times the 1998 inflation rate of 1.5 percent. Revenues are needed because the programming cost to Time Warner Cable has increased faster than inflation, Mrs. Mooney said.
All customers should be notified by the end of the week of new rates.
Warner's fees vary in its 54 franchises because of a complex Federal Communications Commission formula, she said:
Time Warner Cable and other providers are coming under rate pressure from satellite television programming -- such as DirecTV and PrimeStar.
- Standard rates, which include the Lifeline-Basic service, will vary from $28.13 in Arlington Heights ($1.31 more) to $32.02 in Amberley Village ($1.50 more). Cincinnati residents will pay $29.98 ($1.40 more).
With the increase will come three new standard tier channels: PAX TV, Travel and Animal Planet, Mrs. Mooney said. "PAX TV is for viewers who want family-wholesome programming like Touched by an Angel and Little House on the Prairie."
- Lifeline-Basic rates will vary from $7.43 in Arlington Heights (25 cents less) to $9.18 in Amberley Village (18 cents less). Cincinnati residents will pay $8.33 (11 cents less).
The "family value" tier, which will now include the Encore movie channel, will cost $1.99 if purchased in a combination package with other channels. By itself, the six-channel "family value" tier will cost $2.99, which is unchanged. It includes the History, Disney, TV Food, Turner Classic Movies, Encore and Golf channels.
"We strive to keep rates on our standard level of service, family value tier and premium services competitive so we can continue to add customers and provide affordable service for existing customers," Mrs. Mooney said.
Premium offerings such as HBO, Cinemax and Showtime will not cost more in 1999. The last rate change for Time Warner in Greater Cincinnati occurred in January, when Lifeline-Basic rates fell 25 cents a month and standard rates increased about 6 percent.
No increase is planned by InterMedia of Northern Kentucky, which provides coverage in Campbell, Kenton and Boone counties.