Monthly cable television rates for Carroll residents will rise $1.55 for basic service beginning March 1, the county's cable supplier said this week.

Prestige Cable TV customers have been notified that basic service fees will increase from $18.95 to $20.50 per month.

"Our operating costs have continued to increase, so we must pass that on to the consumer," said Richard Caswell, vice president of marketing for Prestige.

The rate for basic service will rise 8.2 percent, though the average Carroll subscriber will see a 4.5 percent increase on their monthly bill, said officials from Prestige, based in Cartersville, Ga.

That's because most county customers, in additionto fees for 38-channel basic service, pay for a remote control device, service to a second television, and premium channels such as HBO and Home Team Sports.

Caswell said the increase will help pay for construction of a new facility in the Englar Business Park, the layingof more cable lines, and four additional employees this year, as well as programming-cost increases.

With the exception of 1986, cablerates have increased every year since the service came to Carroll in1984.

"Our biggest increase has been programming costs in 1990 and 1991," he said.

Twenty-three cents of the increase goes to pay for a new basic-service channel, American Movie Classics. Increased fees from existing suppliers account for another 47 cents of the increase.

"A little more than half (of the $1.55) will be spent on programming," he said.

Negotiations with the county to gain a channel for the American Movie Channel were complete last week, Caswell said.

"We, at one time, had given up 15 channels to the county and towns(for community access)," he said, adding that 10 of those have remained vacant since 1984. "We have gone to get some of the channels backto offer more programming services."

However when negotiations began in July, Prestige met opposition from municipal officials who realized that they might need the community access channels.

"We're hesitant to give up something that is of value and that could be of benefit to the public," said Howard "Buddy" Redman Jr., president of the 11-member Cable TV Committee.

Mount Airy is the first town to relinquish their channel, said Councilman R. Delaine Hobbs Jr.

"We have lent it to them," Hobbs said.

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