Business

Cable TV rate increase under review

By ERICA JAHN

Staff writer

Comcast Cable Communications submitted justification to Federal Way officials earlier this month to raise basic cable rates this year, but city information systems manager Mehdi Sadri said cable companies in the past have increased rates slightly below the maximum allowed.

Comcast proposed raising the rates by up to 68 cents in the area where Viacom formerly provided cable service, potentially bringing the monthly cable bill to $15.11 for subscribers south of South 288th Street. The maximum increase, if applied, could bring the rates up to $14.45 a month in the north part of the city, where AT&T used to provide service.

Still, while Comcast has presented the maximum amount it could raise rates, it hasn’t said what the actual basic cable rate will be.

“This year, they haven’t told us the rate. Just the maximum,” Sadri said.

The Federal Communications Commission grants cities the authority to review adjustments to basic cable rates in exchange for allowing cable companies to bury cable lines on city property. Cities have a right to review the services provided and ensure the provider isn’t overcharging its customers when it seeks a rate increase.

Last July, the Federal Way City Council approved an AT&T request to increase basic cable rates $1.29, from $13.14 to $14.43 a month.

Federal guidelines govern the calculations cable companies can use to increase their rates based on the provider’s operating costs, increases in the cost of purchasing programming and the rate of inflation.

Cable companies must submit accounting records to the city’s Management Services Department for review to ensure the company is meeting FCC guidelines for levels of service.

Sadri said cable companies adjust their package rates all the time for things like pay-per-view selections and additional channels.

But because basic cable is subject to local review before the rates can be changed, cable companies typically submit their adjustment requests in April or May and the city makes a decision effective July 1. Companies must submit rate adjustment requests 30 days before the July 1 deadline.

Staff writer Erica Jahn: 925-5565, ejahn@fedwaymirror.com

Questions?

Federal Way residents can request more information or comment on the proposed rate increases until June 18 by writing to 3-H Cable Communications Consultants, 504 E. Main St., Auburn, WA, 98002, or faxing 833-8430.

More information is available from 3-H Cable Communications Consultants at 833-8380 or Mehdi Sadri, the city of Federal Way’s information systems manager, at 661-4098.

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