NEW YORK, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Satellite television provider DirecTV Group said its service fees will rise by an average of 4.5 percent in February due to increasing programming costs.
DirecTV has to pay about 8 percent more for programs, since almost all of its providers are hiking their rates, it said on Thursday.
The company, which recently resolved a bitter price dispute with programmer Viacom Inc, said it is doing all it can to make sure customers "do not suffer unfair price increases as a result of unreasonable demands."
The new fees will go into effect on Feb. 7.
DirecTV said it has managed to keep its annual price increases below those of its cable rivals on average.
Tensions between program makers and distributors are on the rise and leading to some higher prices as the industry's growth appears to have peaked.
DirecTV said in November that customer defections increased as a result of its July dispute with Viacom, which involved a blackout of channels such as Nickelodeon and MTV for 9 days.
The loss of 26 networks to 20 million homes for nine full days was unprecedented in the U.S. pay-TV industry in terms of the size, length and scope of the blackout.
DirecTV's rivals include satellite service Dish Network Corp and cable providers Comcast Corp, Time Warner Cable Inc and Cablevision Systems, as well as telephone companies AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications .
DirecTV shares closed up 11 cents at $49.71 on Nasdaq.