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Council approves big bump in CNS cable rates

The cost of retransmitting local broadcast stations including WCTV, WALB, WTXL, WTLH and others is driving up the cost of cable television, according to Cairo city officials.
On Monday night, the Cairo City Council approved a major rate increase to cover the additional cost to carry the local ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC affiliates on CNS Cable, as well as to cover the typical increase in programming costs.
Every three years, the city and the other CNS cities including Thomasville, Camilla and Moultrie negotiate with the local network affiliates for the retransmission of their signals.
According to Cairo City Manager Chris Addleton, the combined cost for retransmission of the local broadcast stations’ signals equals $8.03 per CNS subscriber per month. On top of that, the city is increasing monthly cable rates by as much as $2.80 per month to cover those higher costs.
“We are not increasing our profit margin with these increased rates. The increase is simply to cover our additional cost and to pass that cost on to our subscribers. We don’t like to do it, but we really have no choice,” the city manager said.
In correspondence received by the city from its cable competitor Mediacom, that company is announcing it, too, will be increasing rates to cover the higher cost of retransmission of the local broadcast network affiliates, as well as increased cost of sports programming.
However, it appears that the retransmission cost for Mediacom is going up from $2.46 per month to $5.09 per month. Mediacom’s regional sports surcharge is increasing by 20 cents per month and the cost of HBO is going up $1 per month.
According to the Federal Communications Commission, the cost of retransmission of local broadcasters has increased from $28 million in 2005 to $2.4 billion in 2012. Analysts predict that number could increase to $12 billion by 2019.
Cairo City Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas said that the local stations are substantially increasing their retransmission fees because they have leverage and can demand the higher fees.
“What if we just told them we weren’t going to pay that much?” Mayor Bobby Burns asked. Addleton said CNS would be forced to drop the popular local stations from its lineup which would put CNS at a competitive disadvantage.
The higher rates will go into effect with the February billing, Addleton said.
The city manager said that the city’s monthly utility bill will break out the cost of the retransmission fees from now going forward.
Rates for basic cable will go from $19.95 per month to $25.95 per month; the Gateway package will increase from $66.95 to $74.95; Supreme is now $82.95 and increases to 91.95; and Digital Extreme which currently costs $102.95 per month will increase to $111.95 per month.
For a complete list of packages and new rates contact CNS by calling 229-307-0332.

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