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Federal Communications Commission
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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

Report No. CS 97-30 ACTION IN DOCKET CASE December 15,1997


The Commission has released the results of a survey of cable industry prices covering the period from July 1, 1995 to July 1, 1997. The survey (FCC 97-409) is mandated by section 623(k) of the Communications Act of 1934 and reflects information gathered from cable operators. Beyond reporting on the level of price increases, the survey compares subscriber rates in competitive service areas and noncompetitive service areas.

Within the competitive group of operators, the survey found that the average monthly rate rose by 8.7% between 1995 and 1996 and 9.6% between 1996 and 1997. Over the same time period, the average number of channels received by subscribers in the competitive group increased from 38 in 1995 to 46.5 in 1997. In the noncompetitive group, the average monthly rate rose by 8.8% between 1995 and 1996, and 8.5% between 1996 and 1997. The average number of channels increased from 44 in 1995 to 49.4 in 1997.

The survey finds that prices are rising in both competitive and noncompetitive areas, and that subscribers in competitive areas pay less than those in noncompetitive areas. The survey shows that subscribers in competitive service areas pay 5.8% less on average than subscribers in noncompetitive service areas. As of July 1, 1997, the competitive average rate (the cost of the basic service tier, the cable programming service tier, a remote and a converter) was $27.26 and the noncompetitive average rate was $28.83.

The survey also found that subscribers who purchase cable services from regulated operators pay less, on an average per channel basis, for programming services and equipment, than subscribers that purchase services from unregulated operators, and that regulated operators offer more channels than unregulated operators on average. In 1997, the survey found that subscribers who purchase cable services from regulated operators pay on average $0.60 per channel for an average of 51.2 channels, while subscribers who purchase cable services from unregulated operators pay on average $0.65 per channel for an average of 47.8 channels. Also, regulated operators charge less, on average, for equipment than unregulated operators.

Additional findings of the price survey include:

  • Both competitive and noncompetitive operators attribute most of their rate increases to increases in inflation, programming costs, channel additions, and system upgrades. Competitive and unregulated operators also attribute significant portions of their rate increases to increases in equipment costs.

  • For both competitive and noncompetitive operators, the package of services offered to subscribers has changed over time. Both groups have increased their channel capacity and now offer subscribers additional satellite channels.

Action by the Commission December 15, 1997 by Report (FCC 97-409). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth, Powell and Tristani.


Media contact: Morgan Broman at (202) 418-2358
Cable Services Bureau contacts: Daniel Hodes, Kiran Duwadi at (202) 418-7200