Cable operators to raise set-top box rates

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Cable companies say they're going to charge more for new set-top cable boxes -- to help pay for more expensive versions being mandated by the Federal Communications Commission.

The new boxes are required to receive digital programming, and change channels.

The FCC has been trying for nearly a decade to open up the market and stir competition. It wants consumers to buy the boxes, and then use a card provided by the cable company to decode their programming. However, a retail market has not developed, with millions of cable customers still renting the boxes.

Cable companies were required to start shipping the new boxes July first. They've lobbied against the rule, saying the boxes are more expensive.

Consumer groups are calling it another excuse for cable companies to raise rates. They say cable customers could see as much as a three dollar increase in their monthly bill.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)