Beijing cable action draws increasing criticism
( 2003-07-15 11:13) (China Daily)
Beijing cable TV subscribers will pay up to 50 per cent more a month, starting this month, to the city's only cable TV provider - Beijing Gehua CATV Network Co Ltd.
The price rise of 6 yuan (US$72 cents) has raised the hackles of many Beijingers.
"The public's voice should be heard before the company raises the price, since it has a monopoly over the business," said a subscriber called Sang, 32, who works as a public servant.
In the past few days, the decision by Beijing Gehua CATV has drawn increasing criticism on online forums.
Having purchased cable TV networks in Beijing's suburbs last year, Gehua announced at the beginning of July that it will charge each cable TV subscriber 18 yuan (US$2.20) a month starting from July, an increase of up to 50 per cent.
The price rise will earn the company an extra 70 million yuan (US$8.4 million) in the latter half of this year.
The company said in its announcement that it had given subscribers more TV channels and improved the quality of broadcasts by completing its optic cable network in 2001.
The old charges no longer covered the cost of maintaining the optic cable network.
"As our company will broadcast cable digital television (in Beijing area) in the near future, it will be really hard to cover all those costs if we do not raise the price," said a source with the company, who preferred to remain anonymous.
The unidentified source stressed their price hike was legal, since it was approved by the Prices Bureau of Beijing Municipality.
However, many customers argue that the fee increase contravened the State's Pricing Law and its regulations on public hearings.
At present, the State uses a multilevel pricing structure. The prices of most products are decided by market forces.
Public utilities which provide essential goods or services, or companies that hold a monopoly, can raise prices in line with market trends, subject to government approval.
But before final decisions are made, public hearings are required.
Zhou Hanhua, a law scholar with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said hearings should have been held on the price of cable TV.
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