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Cablevision tries smaller rate rise

Anti-cable campaign may have contributed to move

NEW YORK — Chuck Dolan’s Cablevision Systems will raise its average rates to subscribers by $1.59 a month, or 3.2%, for cable TV service.

“That’s lower than recent rate increases by cable operators,” said Tom Eagan, media analyst for Oppenheimer & Co., citing a General Accounting Office report earlier this month that said monthly cable rates have soared by 40% over the past five years, more than triple the 12% jump in the rate of inflation.

Eagan said Dolan may also be reacting to the rowdy anti-cable campaign begun last week by satcaster EchoStar that urges cable subscribers to “stop feeding the pig,” referring to the GAO’s report of jacked-up cable rates. EchoStar has bought ads on TV and radio and in print to disseminate its message that satellite is cheaper than cable. EchoStar has even created a snarky Web site, Stopfeedingthepig.com.

The bills to Cablevision’s subscribers go up beginning in January. Company said that the boosts are justified because the amount of money it pays cable networks every month has soared by 13% in the last year.

Untouched by rate increases, Cablevision added, will be users of the company’s high-speed Internet service and its cable-telephony operation.

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