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Friday, April 18, 2014

Docomo justifies hike in cable rates

Docomo Pacific said it had no choice but to implement a $2-increase in its basic cable rate—from $34.95 to $36.95—last Feb. 1 because national cable networks have also recently hiked licensing fees.

“These licensing fees increase every year and we have been absorbing the ever increasing programming costs from our suppliers in an effort to keep cable TV bills at a minimum. As a result of the most recent increase, we found it necessary to adjust the basic cable TV rate,” Docomo Pacific general manager James Nelson said in an email to the Saipan Tribune.

Unfortunately, since the rate hike is due to an increase in licensing fees, local cable subscribers will not enjoy additional channels on their basic cable service.

“Relative to service, we continue to strive to provide the best customer and product service to our subscribers,” Nelson assured.

He pointed out that the increase was not a last-minute decision and its clients were informed months in advance about the hike in its charges.

“A letter dated Dec. 26, 2013 from our CEO, Jay Shedd, was sent to all CNMI cable TV subscribers notifying them that the rate increase was forthcoming effective Feb. 1st. So, this is not a last-minute rate increase. We gave our subscribers advance notice so they can make any adjustments necessary in order to keep their subscription active.”

Last Jan. 20, House Public Utilities, Transportation and Communications Committee chair Rep. Lorenzo Deleon Guerrero asked the Public Utilities Commission to review Docomo Pacific’s $2 rate increase per basic cable television service customer effective Feb. 1.

Deleon Guerrero said there is no indication that PUC has approved this rate increase pursuant to law.

In May last year, Docomo Pacific completed its $129.8-million acquisition of MCV Broadband. That was after Japan-based NTT Docomo received approval from federal regulators to push through with the deal.

MCV Broadband is a supplier of cable television, telephony, and high speed Internet services in Commonwealth and Guam. Before Docomo Pacific’s acquisition, it was owned by private equity firm Seaport Capital. (Mark Rabago)

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