RANTOUL – Mediacom customers can expect to see rate increases in their December cable bills.
Monthly rates for basic service will rise by $2, while rates for family service will go up $3, said Phyllis Peters, the company's communications director.
– For customers in Rantoul, Gifford, Ludlow and Thomasboro, basic service will increase from $23.95 to $25.95 and family service will increase from $58.95 to $61.95.
– For customers in Paxton, Loda and Bayles Lake, basic service will increase from $16.95 to $18.95 and family service from $48.95 to $51.95.
– For customers in all other areas of East Central Illinois, basic service will rise from $25.95 to $27.95 and family from $62.95 to $65.95.
Basic service subscribers get channels 2 though 13, plus 11 digital channels, for a total of 23 channels, Peters said. Family service subscribers get those channels, plus the expanded tier of channels between 14 and 68.
The last rate increase for Medicom cable subscribers came in September 2009, Peters said.
"We've delayed making pricing changes as long as we could," she said. "We've had a very steep increase in programming charges – a significant increase (compared with the preceding year) in 2011. ... We're not passing along the full increased programming expense to customers, given the continued economic distress."
In Mediacom's most recent quarterly report to shareholders, the company said it's seen a "substantial increase" in the cost of programming, particularly sports and local broadcast programming, "well in excess of the inflation rate or the change in the consumer price index."
During the quarter that ended June 30, programming expenses increased 6 percent from a year earlier, "primarily due to higher contractual rates charged by our programming vendors," the company said.
Video programming expense tends to be Mediacom's single largest expense, the company added.
Also in that report, Mediacom said the economic downturn led to "a reduction in basic subscribers and slower growth rates of digital, high-speed data and phone customers."
As of June 30, the company had more than 1.2 million basic subscribers, down about 66,000 from a year earlier.
Peters said the December rate increases won't immediately affect anyone paying discounted rates as a result of promotional offers. Those customers will be subject to the increase only after their promotional offer runs its course, she said.
Mediacom, based in Middletown, N.Y., is the nation's eighth largest cable company, serving primarily smaller communities in 22 states, mostly in the Midwest and Southeast.
In addition to the seven communities specified above, other area communities served by Mediacom include: Mahomet, Fisher, Tolono, Pesotum, Ivesdale, Fairmount, Gibson City, Melvin, Monticello, Bement, Mansfield, Cerro Gordo, Tuscola, Villa Grove, Camargo, Arcola, Arthur, Hammond, Clinton, DeLand, Weldon, Mattoon, Oakland, Sullivan, Hindsboro, LeRoy, Bellflower, Farmer City and Watseka.