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Watch Your Cable Bills In the Coming Months (AXIOS)

Cable bills will rise, some indications predict, because of mergers, lack of territorial competition and cost of show productions.

Map provided by WebPage FX

The Week
There has been significant consolidation in many industries — airlines, beer, grocery stores — but one you might want to keep an eye on is media companies, capped by the Walt Disney Co.’s proposal to buy 21st Century Fox movie and TV assets for $52.4 billion. Giant media companies that produce the TV you love are trying to get the cable and satellite TV companies that bring that content into your home to pay more, Axios media reporter Sara Fischer explains in the video below, and larger media companies have more bargaining power. If they are successful, the cable companies will add the costs to your bill.

One of the reasons your bill might go up is that the TV you love is becoming more expensive to produce — each of the last six episodes of Game of Thrones, for example, cost $15 million to make, Fischer notes, adding:

“If you’re not careful about watching your cable and internet bills, the costs could creep up on you.”

Los Angeles Times
I got a preview of what’s to come over the weekend as my Spectrum internet bill soared by 20% — and as I encountered the take-it-or-leave-it policy imposed by Spectrum’s owner, Charter Communications, which purchased Time Warner Cable last year.

Charter can get away with being so hard-nosed because it faces precious little competition. Rivals such as AT&T and Frontier Communications aren’t available in all neighborhoods. And many consumers find it’s just too much hassle to switch service providers.

Tullahoma News
“Small systems are being burdened even more so than large systems,” said Tullahoma Utilities Authority (TUA) President Brian Skelton, whose business includes operating a local cable system called LightTUBe.

And the senior vice president of government and public relations for cable company Mediacom, Tom Larsen, agrees. In a June interview with the digital magazine “Ars Technica,” Larsen explained that when big companies get the best prices, programmers look to the “littlest guys” to make up the difference. As a result, Larsen said, rural markets pay more than urban ones. “It’s kind of a different digital divide,” he said. “It’s a pricing divide.”

NewBuryPort News
In the coming weeks, Newburyport and Newbury residents might notice a jump in their cable, phone and internet bills.

Effective Wednesday, prices for most service packages rose, at least slightly, for Xfinity customers in both communities. This includes all Triple Play packages, which increased by $5, and Double Play packages, which jumped $3.

Both unwired and wired home installation fees will also increase from $29 to $40, effective Jan. 1. All other installation-related fees are also going up, including the hourly service charge, which will rise from $35.20 to $40.


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