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Time Warner to raise cable TV rates 5% Most popular package expected to rise about $2.50 a month

Most Western New York cable TV customers will see their rates go up about 5 percent in the new year, Time Warner Cable announced Tuesday.

Cable officials noted that some subscribers will see less of an increase, based on where they live and what services they receive.

The announcement did not provide dollar figures for the hike.

Based on current rates, it could be expected that the cost of the most popular channel package -- expanded basic -- would rise about $2.50 a month. Rates for the package earlier this year were $51.36 a month in Buffalo and $52.09 in the suburbs.

The announcement also did not give a date when the new rates would take effect. In Buffalo, it's likely that it will be the same date as this year's increase -- Feb. 1.

Time Warner officials noted that the increase is smaller than in previous years. Adelphia, which Time Warner acquired last summer, had raised rates 40 to 44 percent since 2001, including a 6 percent hike a year ago.

Officials added that some cable fees would be reduced. The monthly cost of DVR service will fall from $6.95 a month to $4.95. Rates for advanced digital TV boxes will decrease by $1. Prices for high-speed computer service will remain the same.

"The majority of our programmers increase their prices to us annually," Steve Jaworowski, Buffalo Division vice president of marketing services for Time Warner Cable, said in a news release. "The new rates are a pass-through of programming rate increases that we must incur on an annual basis. Considering the rise in overall operating costs, we're especially pleased that we've been able to cap it at just 5 percent."

Time Warner officials noted that the company has been making improvements in program selection, delivery of services and infrastructure since it took over from Adelphia.

There was no mention of two controversies that have arisen since the takeover -- making the NFL Network an extra-cost premium channel and complaints about recovery time after the disastrous October snowstorm, which interrupted service to thousands of subscribers.

The announcement noted that Time Warner added several new channels to its offerings last week.

"The addition of channels, as well as creation of packages that better reflect consumer interests, are all part of our improvement plan," Jaworowski said.

e-mail: danderson@buffnews.com

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