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ESPN Expected to Raise Rates by 20%

May 01, 2003|Sallie Hofmeister

Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN cable network is expected to announce this week that it will raise rates by 20% for the fifth year in a row to its cable and satellite TV distributors. ESPN is already the highest-priced basic cable network, and the hike will bring the rates it charges distributors to an average of about $2 a month per subscription.

Cable operators blame ESPN, and a broader increase in sports programming costs, for rising consumer rates that are the subject of a federal inquiry. Despite their yearly protests, however, TV distributors have been unwilling to drop ESPN, fearing a backlash from customers.

ESPN confirmed that it would mail letters to distributors this week informing them of new rates taking effect Aug. 1, but declined to provide details.

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