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Cablevision Adds Monthly Sports Fee; Who's Next?
By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (February 22, 2013) - Cablevision on April 1 will join DIRECTV and Verizon in assessing a small monthly sports surcharge on customer bills in an effort to offset the rising cost of acquiring sports programming.

The cable operator says a $2.98 charge will start showing up on all monthly bills except on those for customers who subscribe to basic packages that do not include sports channels.

last September added a $3 monthly sports fee to the bills of new customers in roughly 20 percent of U.S. markets. The fee was imposed in markets where there is more than one regional sports channel, such as Denver, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. The satcaster said the fee will be expanded this to current customers in any market that has multiple regional sports channels.

followed DIRECTV's lead, adding a $2.42 surcharge for sports in select markets with all markets getting it by April.

With Cablevision joining the group, it would seem likely that most, if not all, TV providers will eventually follow suit, barring a customer revolt. The pay TV providers have publicly lamented that networks such as ESPN and new regional sports networks such as the new Los Angeles Lakers channel are asking for too much money to carry their channels.

However, the channels remain hugely popular with the sports audience so, for now, the pay TV providers may have no choice but to pass the costs along to their subscribers, although DIRECTV CEO Mike White says the $3 monthly surcharge does not come close to offsetting the cost of the regional sports channels.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Cablevision says that sports programming represents one-third of its overall programming costs.

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