Cable Rates Will Rise as Cox Prepares to Make Changes to Jonesboro System

November 18, 2003 - Posted at 7:26 a.m. CDT, updated at 3:40 p.m.

JONESBORO, AR - Cable television rates in Jonesboro could be rising soon, as Cox Communications is now in the final stages of a system rebuild and will soon be adding several channels to its line-up.  Cox System Manager Gary Bowman outlined the new plans for members of the Jonesboro City Council last night.  "We have been working to add new channels for over 12 months, and will begin doing just that, neighborhood by neighborhood, as each area is capable of offering the new services," said Bowman.

"Cox has upgraded its 500 miles of area cable lines and equipment to state-of-the-art over the past several months," said Bowman.  "This means our customers will have new choices, and see quite a few changes beginning December 16."  Bowman said rebuilding the company's bandwidth to 862 megahertz will allow Cox to add new services in the future, keeping customers abreast of the fast-paced technology in today's broadband services.

According to Bowman, Cox will add channels to its Expanded Basic level of service, digital video offerings will be reconfigured from three tiers to four tiers, and customers will begin receiving new services as neighborhoods are moved onto the newly rebuilt cable plant.  All optional premium services, such as HBO and Showtime, will migrate to Cox Digital Cable Service, and new channels will also be added to the digital service.

The reconfigurized line-up will include moving HGTV, Turner Classic Movies and Outdoor Life Channel from digital cable to the expanded basic service, which will also see the addition of E! Entertainment Network, Oxygen, TV Land, Speed Channel, Animal Planet, Telemundo and CMT, among others.  Digital cable additions include Outdoor Channel, Biography Channel, NBA TV, Tech TV, Discovery Wings and Lifetime Movie Network, plus others.

Optional premium channels, including HBO Comedy, HBO Family, HBO Latino, Action Max, Showtime Beyond and Starz! Family, will be added along with many others.  And pay-per-view channels ESPN Gameplan and iNDemand will also be added.

Much of the above information was outlined in a news release issued by Cox.  However, there is no reference to what the upgrades will mean as far as rates for customers.  When directly asked about the issue this afternoon, Bowman replied simply, "There is going to be a rate increase, yes."  Bowman declined to discuss the issue any further.  However, at least one Jonesboro alderman is concerned about the situation.  Cecil Province told K8 News, "Legally, the counsel doesn't have the power to do anything about price hikes."  But, the counsel does have the authority to renew or deny the cable operator's franchise, which is up for renewal again in 2006.