Cable company announces rate hike

By Bob Robinson
Star Staff

   Charter Communications has informed Charles Stahl, Elizabethton City Manager, that it intends to raise rates by $3.30 per month, from $37.70 to $41, excluding taxes, for "Expanded Basic Service" in the City of Elizabethton, effective Jan. 1, 2002.
   Craig Perica, group director of Charter Communications, said there would be no increase for cable subscribers with "Basic Service only," which costs $10 per month, for "local broadcast networks and a few satellite channels."
   Charter also announced a $5 increase in the "Basic Modem Fee," currently $24.95 per month, and a $10 increase in the "Premium High Speed Modem Fee," currently $29.95.
   Similar rate increases are planned for Charter subscribers in Carter County living outside the Elizabethton City Limits.
   Charter's last rate increase, locally, was in February 2001.
   Serving 4,000 cable subscribers in Elizabethton, 18,000 in Bristol and 22,000 in Johnson City, Perica said "Charter's rates are the same in all three cities."
   Elizabethton City Council and Carter County Commission granted Charter a franchise to operate here. In return, Charter pays a franchise fee for the "privilege" of operating in the community.
   Perica said rate increases for "Expanded Basic Service rates" do not require local government approval but some communities still regulate "Basic Service rates" only.
   Charter serves 91,000 cable subscribers in the Tri-Cities area, according to Perica.
   Charter's Web site, www.chartercom.com, states "for the third quarter of 2001, revenue increased more than 13 percent to $1.04 billion, and operating cash flow increased more than 10 percent to $467.5 million compared to pro forma results for the third quarter of 2000.
   "Charter continued to pace the industry with internal customer growth of 1.1 percent compared to pro forma third quarter of 2000 for a total of 6,970,100 customers."
   The company has 16,700 employees in 40 states.