THE two biggest TV service providers in the country are hiking their prices, with UPC increasing charges to customers by up to 14pc and the cost of Sky packages also set to rise.
The 540,000 UPC customers have been receiving emails this week informing them of hefty price increases from March that could cost them up to €168 extra a year.
UPC said that the price increases are "due to increases in overall programming and operating costs".
Meanwhile, Sky Ireland prices are also set to rise from February 1, with a €1 increase for the basic TV package to €29 and a €1 increase for Sky Sports to €36.
The Consumers Association of Ireland (CAI) described the price hikes as outrageous.
"Increases of up to 14pc are 70 times higher than inflation at a time when many people simply cannot afford them, and for elderly people the requirement to use online account management to get cheaper rates is simply not manageable," said CAI vice-chairman Michael Kilcoyne.
"I would urge people to shop around and look at free TV services in the market that can make much more sense financially," he said.
One UPC customer who was paying €63.49 a month for TV and broadband has been told his monthly subscription will rise by €8 a month – an increase of over 12pc or €96 per year.
The customer whose email letter from UPC has been seen by the Irish Independent was also told he could reduce this by signing up for a new self-serve discount of €3.50 per month, involving online management of his account.
UPC's Sky Sports add-on is also being hiked from €34 a month to €37.
Customers are being told they have the right to cancel or downgrade their service without penalty within 30 days if they do not accept the increases.
UPC said that its average price change is 4.5pc or €3.21 per month, but customers who are not on a bundle – combined TV, broadband and/or homephone – will be hit with the biggest hikes.
"The prices for products outside a bundle will have higher increases – but these customers will be offered our best value services in a bundle, with free installation fees to Horizon and our fastest modems," it said.
It said the prices for new customers or those who have recently taken up a service will not change, and its prices still compared favourably with the marketplace.
"Over the past 12 months UPC has introduced superb products, content and technological advancements, including our Horizon portfolio, which has reinvented TV through its personalised capabilities and features which are revolutionary," UPC said in a statement.
UPC's charges for a basic Digital Value TV service will go up from €28.50 a month to €32.50, a rise of 14pc, unless customers sign up for an online billing discount bringing the monthly charge to €29.