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Robert Trigaux

FCC: Are you paying more for less cable TV?



Some cable TV consumers are complaining that they are getting fewer channels now on their analog cable service, as cable companies move channels to more-expensive, digital tiers. Once a channel is moved to a digital tier, it is unavailable to analog customers, who still make up about 40 percent of cable subscribers.

If you are among those complaining, take heart. Federal regulators are starting to investigate why some cable-television subscribers are paying the same amount of money even as they are losing channels.

The Federal Communications Commission wrote on Oct. 30 to cable operators Bright House Networks -- prominent in the Tampa Bay area (and owner of Bay News 9), with 850,000 customers in Central Florida and about 2.4-million customers across five states -- as well as Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable Inc., Cox Communications Inc., Charter Communications Inc., Cablevision Systems Corp., Suddenlink Communications, Bend Cable Communications, GCI Company, Harron Entertainment and RCN Corp.

Verizon, which offers pay-TV services with FiOS and is competing aggressively with Bright House in this metro area, also was included in the probe. The FCC letter asks about pricing and changes they have made to their tiers of service, including details about channels that have been moved to digital service.

"I'm certainly concerned with the increasing cable prices that consumers are facing," FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal. "They are getting less and being charged the same or more."

The FCC launched the investigation Oct. 30, a day after consumer-advocacy group Consumers Union sent a letter to several senators expressing concern that consumers were losing channels without a corresponding rate decrease.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:22am]


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