November 25, 2004

Comcast Plans to Raise Cable TV Rates ; Basic, Digital Service Subscribers Will See Increase in January

Comcast cable TV subscribers should get ready for another rate increase next year.

The state's largest cable company announced yesterday that it was jacking up rates for most of its 1.1 million customers here.

The company's basic cable service, which includes channels such as ESPN and CNN, will increase an average of $2.81 a month beginning in January. That means customers now paying $39.48 a month for basic cable will pay $42.29.

Prices also will increase for digital cable subscribers, though the company did not say by how much. Limited basic cable, which includes the broadcast networks and government channels, will increase an average of 19 cents for some customers.

"Comcast's Washington market prices reflect the increased value of the service, including availability of more programming choices, improvements in customer service and investments in technical upgrades," Comcast spokesman Steve Kipp said. He declined to comment beyond the statement.

Comcast has rolled out new services in recent months, including a video on-demand service that allows digital cable customers to choose from more than 2,000 hours of programming.

Earlier this month, it launched new digital video recorders that have the ability to record television programs.

Still, the increase comes only two months after Chief Executive Officer Brian Roberts indicated that prices would not go up. At the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce Luncheon in September, Roberts was asked if a bigger Comcast would increase consumers' cable bills. "I hope not," said Roberts.

Comcast's last rate increase occurred in January.

P-I reporter John Cook can be reached at 206-448-8075 or [email protected]