Subscribers to NHTC’s television service New Hope Vision were notified last month of a rate increase that will take effect with the Nov. 1 statement.
As your cooperative, NHTC strives to provide its members with the highest quality service possible at a fair price. While we never like implementing rate increases, rate hikes from content providers have left us little choice — either we meet their new increased fees or we no longer air their networks. Neither is a good choice, since many of the big conglomerates have multiple networks. Giants like Disney also own ESPN, ABC and the SEC Network. Viacom owns MTV, CMT, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central. If we want to air one of those networks, the conglomerates force us to carry all of their channels — and pay the associated fees. It’s an all-or-nothing proposition.
When we take a look at what’s been happening across the nation, NHTC isn’t the only company affected by rising rates from the channel providers. Most of us watched the fight play out between Viacom and DirecTV. Viacom tried to increase their per-subscriber rate by a whopping 60 percent. DirecTV initially refused to pay and dropped their channels, but consumer demand forced them back to the bargaining table. On top of dramatic increases every few years as contracts are renegotiated, annual rate increases are being built into the contracts making it even more difficult to control costs.
To help manage all of this, NHTC is a member of the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC). Alone, small providers like NHTC have dramatically less leverage at the bargaining table than big providers like DirecTV and Comcast, and therefore would be charged even higher rates by the networks. By banding together with other cooperatives through NCTC, we are able to get better rates as part of a larger cooperative than we could on our own.
“We have worked hard to avoid raising the rate we charge our members,” says Jim Cook, NHTC’s general manager. “Unfortunately, we have reached the point where we can no longer absorb these increases and must pass part of the increase on to our TV subscribers. However, you can rest assured that we are doing everything we can to control all fixed costs to keep rates as low as possible.”