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Charter adjusts package rates for new year

Charter Communications has adjusted its video package rates and structure, effective Jan. 1, 2009.

According to Charter Communication Director of Government Relations for Georgia and Alabama Skip James, Charter’s new approach to its level of video service and tiers is simpler for both consumers and our customer care agents.

This structure allows more flexibility, and choice to select the desired channels.

Charter’s levels of video service include: Basic, Expanded Basic, and Digital Home.

If a customer chooses Digital Home, one of three digital packages is also available. “Digital Views” including Sports View, Faith and Values View, and Latino View are individually available as a bolt-on to any digital package

According to James, customers receive the High Definition simulcast of any available HD channel to which the customer subscribes to the standard definition version of the channel. For example, if the customer subscribes to HBO, the customer automatically receives HBO HD at no additional charge.

“It is a common misconception that cable companies receive programming for free. Every programmer charges Charter a fee per customer per month to carry their service, and we actively negotiate with our programming partners in order to obtain their content at the best possible prices. However, programming costs remain the highest expense we have on a yearly basis,” James said.

As for package rate changes, there was no change to the basic $19.99.

Expanded basic increased from $33 to $35, while total basic and expanded package increased $2 to $54.99.

The Charter HD Ultra View went down $3 to $5.

Channels in this package include HDNet, HDNet Movies, Universal HD, Palladium HD and others.

Digital Premium, which includes channels such as HBO, Cinemax, Starz and Encore, increased $1.

Charter will more away from the Big/Bigger/Biggest video packages and move to Digital Home, which is the entry-level plan and base package option, James said.

“For greater choice and flexibility, pre-packaged bundles formerly known as ‘Big,’ ‘Bigger’ and ‘Biggest’ will no longer be available. If customers currently subscribe to any of these packages, they will retain all of the same programming services, but each element of these discontinued packages will be priced and available separately,” James said.

Customers, who do not subscribe to standard definition services above Basic, may lose channels.

For example, if a customer has basic but not Expanded Basic can have HD Ultra View but will lose HD versions of ESPN, ESPN2 and Discovery.

Another scenario is if a customer has Basic but not Total View can lose HD versions of Science, Hallmark, IFC, FUSE and WE HD.

Also, customers currently enrolled in a promotional package deal will not be impacted by the rate increase until the promotion ends.

Current Charter Customers that subscribe to Charter Telephone and High-Speed Internet service pricing will remain unchanged; however, there will be a small telephone phone regulatory fee increase.

“We are working very hard to offer every customer a multitude of choices, in order to tailor a package right for them and provide the most value for their dollar,” James said.

“We have worked very hard to absorb as many of the cost increases we have received from our suppliers and programmers in order to minimize any pricing adjustments,’ he added.