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There Has to Be a Fairer Way to Set Cable Rates

July 31, 1994

In Washington they say that cable rates have dropped 8.49% for the nation's 25 largest municipalities ("FCC Claims Big Drop in Cable Subscriber Rates," July 15). Here's what's happening in one small town: Within the past decade, Century Cable's rates for basic service have gone from $8 a month to the current $34.39, an increase of 325%. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says inflation during this period has risen just 50%.

The company has redefined "basic" to exclude the most desirable satellite channels that had formerly been provided as part of "basic." "Pay channels" such as HBO are in addition to the $34.39 rate. They've added FCC-ordered "must-carries" and several new channels with programming that none of us got to vote on but are forced to pay for anyhow.

Until we can vote with our dollars and switch to another cable system in our area, setting a reasonable rate of return is the only fair way to determine rates.

Meanwhile, I just opened my latest mail from Century and find that their rate has gone up again, to $36.41 beginning now!

ELLEN STERN HARRIS

Beverly Hills

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