* Price increases after Sandy could lead to churn-analyst
* Video, phone customers who also buy Internet to be
* Customers with promotions not affected by increases
By Liana B. Baker
Dec 6 New York-based cable operator Cablevision
Systems Corp said on Thursday it would increase its
Internet prices by $5 in January, raising total monthly bills of
most customers by 3.2 percent on average.
The company said in a statement that prices for its video
and phone services will not be affected and that prices for
promotional packages, which generally last one year, will not
But all customers who have Internet service as part of their
video or phone package will see their prices go up.
Canaccord Genuity analyst Tom Eagan downgraded his
Cablevision rating from "buy" to "hold" on Nov. 27 and said that
Cablevision will lose customers if it decides to raise prices
not long after Superstorm Sandy.
"Given the massive service outages among its subscribers
(after Sandy), we don't believe the company can raise rates ...
without incurring material customer churn," Eagan said.
The cable provider, which is controlled by the Dolan family,
said in early November that costs from Sandy, which knocked out
service for as many as half its customers, would be
substantially higher than its $16 million bill from hurricane
Irene in 2011.
Like bigger operators Comcast and Time Warner
Cable, Cablevision has been losing customers to rivals
such as satellite television provider DirecTV and
telephone operator Verizon Communications.
Cablevision shares closed up 2.6 percent, at $14.16, on