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Watching your favorite television show on EPB's Fi-TV connection will cost you anywhere from $2 to $8 more a month, starting in January.

EPB announced Friday it is boosting its basic cable TV rates by nearly 9 percent for most of its nearly 59,000 video customers to cover higher content charges for television programming in 2018.

The city-owned utility said it will not raise its prices for premium TV services or its internet or telephone services.

"This increase is a straight pass-through from locally operated television networks and national channels to customers," EPB President David Wade said. "EPB is charging just enough to cover the cost of content increases."

The rate hikes follow similar increases this year, which boosted the prices for EPB cable TV plans from $2 to $11 more a month in January 2017. The latest increase will be the fourth increase since the municipal utility began its TV service in 2009.

EPB raising rates

* The 18-channel bronze plan will rise from $16.99 to $18.99

* The silver plan will rise from $76.99 to $83.99

* The gold plan will rise from $91.99 to $99.99

Most of EPB customers bundle two or three services for discounts of 15 to 18 percent below the quoted prices above.

Source: EPB

Comcast also plans to raise its cable TV rates by an average 2.2 percent nationwide in 2018 to compensate for higher content costs, although company spokeswoman Sara Jo Walker said the details of Comcast's 2018 pricing schedule in Chattanooga are still being worked on. Walker said Comcast bills also will increase in January.

"The costs we are charged to carry popular networks continue to increase significantly — especially broadcast television and sports programming," Walker said Friday. Walker said Comcast customers will see an increase in the broadcast TV fee and the sports fee.

According to Consumer Reports, Comcast raised prices this year by an average of 3.8 percent, with the amount varying by package. In addition, the company's broadcast TV fee jumped from $5 to $7 each month, and the regional sports fee rose from $3 to $5 per month.

Walker said Comcast continues to make significant investments in its network and technologies to speed its Internet service and provide more WiFi hotspots, more video across viewing screens and innovations like X1.

EPB also said it is also adding more services for video customers, including free video-on-demand libraries. EPB2GO, an app based streaming service that gives customers the ability to stream content on mobile devices wherever they go, now includes more than 130 streaming channels including Fox Now, Showtime Anytime, and Ovation Now, which EPB has added in the last year.

EPB will continue to offer 15 to 18 percent discounts for bundling video, voice and internet services with no installation fees, contracts or data caps, utility spokesman John Pless said.

Although television networks are raising prices for all cable TV providers, Wade said EPB sets itself apart by clearly communicating its pricing.

"EPB's television offering remains competitively priced with no contracts, hidden fees, or repair charges," he said. "EPB Fiber Optics pricing is about the same, or even a little less, than comparable content and bundle pricing offered by other television providers."

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average cost of cable television across the United States in the past year was up 6.2 prcent, or triple the overall inflation rate in the past year.

While television viewers may be paying more for cable, they are getting new television sets at a cheaper price these days. BLS said the price of a comparable new television set purchased last month was 10.3 percent less than a year ago.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340.

This story was updated Nov. 19 at 6:20 p.m. to correct material previously in a quote given by Comcast spokeswoman Sara Jo Walker in an email.

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