Programming fees to increase monthly TV subscriptions

By Chris Schweitzer, Auburn Essential Services

AES TV customers will have an increase in their monthly subscriptions beginning this month, following the notice we first gave customers in October.

At AES, we have been strategic in our efforts to avoid increasing rates for subscribers. In fact, we haven’t raised our rates on phone or Internet services since we first began offering services in 2005. In the history of AES, as costs have increased, we’ve always found ways to lower and control expenses to avoid passing those cost increases through to subscribers.

We’d like to do the same with TV, but unfortunately, cost increases by programming providers are escalating beyond our ability to find savings and efficiencies to offset them. The elevated rates from both national and local programmers represent an increase that, despite our best efforts, will need to be shared with our subscribers.

Increases in national and local programming

TV programming costs have been spiking nationwide over the last decade. You’ve likely heard news stories about difficult negotiations between local affiliates and providers over programming fees. As a result, TV providers in some cities have lost access to local stations for a period of time.

Generally, national program providers increase their rates annually about three to five percent. That trend continues at the local level as well. During the past couple of years, increases from local affiliate providers have been especially dramatic—nearly 30 percent this year.

Many people are surprised to learn this. They think local programming is free. That’s not the case, though. Just as we pay for programming from big, national providers like ESPN and CNBC, we must do the same for local station programming.

As a result of national and local programming increases, your AES monthly subscription will increase a few dollars in 2013. (The exact amount will depend on the channel tier to which you subscribe.) This increase is a few percentage points less than originally projected and reported to all customers and prospective customers in October.

All AES TV packages will be affected since local programming is part of every base package. (For the Classic 30 basic level package, fee-assessed local broadcast content comprises nearly 60 percent of the overall programming.)

The new 2013 TV programming pricing can be found on our website. It is our goal to share any expected annual cost increases with new and prospective customers in the fall, a few months before a price change would take effect in the coming new year.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, our team at AES is available to talk with you. Our intent is – and always has been – to be upfront and transparent so you know exactly what you’re paying for and what to expect in terms of service. You can reach us at 260.333.0100 or with questions.