Use Cable One? It’s going to cost you more to watch come January

Cable One is increasing rates beginning with January billing.
Cable One is increasing rates beginning with January billing.

Cable One will raise television subscription rates beginning with the billing period in January, the company recently announced.

The increases will be as follows:

▪ Economy cable rates will increase by $5 per month.

▪ Standard cable rates will increase by $8 per month.

▪ Preferred packages (cable/internet and cable/phone) rates will increase by $6.

▪ Elite package (cable, phone and internet) rate will increase by $6 per month.

Customers on a promotional rate are excluded from this increase during the term of their promotion, the company said.

Cable One national spokesperson Trish Niemann said the rate increase is due to increased fees charged to the company to carry cable networks.

“The increase is the result of cable networks (not broadcast) increasing their rates by an average of nearly 30 percent over the past three years,” Niemann said. “Despite our best efforts to control these dramatically increasing programming costs, Cable One, like other cable and satellite companies, must pass a portion of these costs on to our customers.”

Cable One is still negotiating with New Orleans NBC affiliate WDSU to keep the station in the Coast lineup. The deadline is midnight Saturday.

If an agreement is not reached, Cable One has said WDSU could force them to quit carrying the channel.

“The increase will occur regardless of our negotiations with WDSU,” Niemann said. “As context for retransmission consent fee increases from broadcasters (NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox) — the fees that local broadcast TV stations charge Cable One to carry their channels have increased nearly 90 percent over the past three years — even though broadcast TV stations distribute their signals over the air, using spectrum granted to them for free by the federal government.”

Cable One also carries Coast NBC affiliate WXXV.

Niemann said Hearst Television, which owns WDSU, is asking for a rate increase of more than 100 percent, more than double its previous contract with Cable One.

“Negotiations have been very slow,” she said, adding that Hearst Television is also in the midst of difficult negotiations with DirecTV.

“We realize that Hearst’s main focus may currently be on resolving their bigger deal with DirecTV,” Niemann said, “but our hope is that Cable One customers don’t suffer as result of living in smaller, more rural markets that aren’t as impactful to Hearst’s bottom line.”

WDSU has a statement posted on its website about the DirecTV and Hearst negotiations.

“WDSU-TV’s parent company is currently negotiating a renewal of the retransmission consent agreement for the carriage of Hearst broadcast stations on DirecTV’s systems,” the statement says. “Satellite distributors are prohibited by law from carrying broadcasters’ signals without their consent. The removal of WDSU-TV’s signal from the DirecTV system will only result if negotiations between representatives of Hearst Television and DirecTV are unsuccessful in reaching a conclusion before Jan. 1, 2017.

“Hearst has a long history of successfully concluding carriage agreements with cable companies and other satellite distributors with no disruption of service to subscribers. While we believe that we and DirecTV can conclude our negotiations before Jan. 1, so as not to deprive any of our respective viewers and customers of our programming, we want to advise our viewers and customers that the possibility of non-renewal of our current agreement exists.”

Scott Hawkins: 228-896-2424, @ScottHawkins4