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December 16, 2009

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Fees for cable television released

SHANGHAI yesterday formally announced a 77 percent rise in fees for cable TV services when the city switches from analog to digital signals.

The changeover is expected to be completed in downtown's 2.5 million households on January 1, 2011, when the new fees will take effect.

The new price will be 23 yuan (US$3.37) per month for each household, from the current 13 yuan.

Though the price rise was opposed by many residents, the new fee schedule, one of two options, was approved by the city government after a November public hearing.

"Finally they made the decision," said Xu Chun, 21, a university student.

"But it seems to me that it wasn't much of a choice."

White-collar worker Shen Tingting, 26, said the only consolations were better image quality and more programs. "I can't do anything about the price rise," she said.

Eighteen out of 19 at the public hearing, including residents, industry experts and city lawmakers, preferred the selected plan, officials said.

The other plan envisaged charging 21 yuan for each signal port, which normally serves a single TV set.

"The chosen one is easier to calculate," said Shen Niandong, chief economist of the Shanghai Development and Reform Commission.

The commission flagged the adjustments last month after city TV operator Oriental Cable Network Co proposed a fee rise to cover the cost of the signal upgrade.

The operator, the city's biggest, reported a loss of nearly 100 million yuan last year.

The commission yesterday ordered the operator to beef up cost supervision and inform the public of any future cost adjustments.

Shanghai will provide fee subsidies to low-income households.

The commission said public-service institutions, such as hospitals and schools, would be charged no more than 13 yuan monthly for each port.


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