Programming costs to blame for Cox basic cable hikes

Cox Communications is blaming increased programming costs for a series of across-the-board cable TV rate hikes in its 416,000-subscriber Hampton Roads, Va. franchise area. A 24-channel TV starter package has climbed from $13.65 to $18 and a 65-channel TV Essential package went up to $59.99 from $51.95, both primarily because content costs more.

Cox, a corporate spokesman wrote in an e-mail to the Daily Press newspaper, "is required to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to TV networks for their programming" which makes "the primary driver for the cost increase ... increases in cable programming costs."

"We try hard to keep cable prices as low as possible, but we can't absorb all of the programming and operating costs increases that we face each year. And our competitors are raising prices too; they are facing the same challenges with increasing costs for the content they deliver," Felicia Blow, Cox's public affairs director wrote.

Verizon FiOS, which is not available everywhere in the service area, charges $64.99 for a 213-channel package.

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