The FCC released its annual Report On Cable Industry Prices today and it confirms what everyone suspected: cable rates are significantly up. Not only have they risen, but, the FCC said, they rose at an annual rate of 5.4 percent, while the Consumer Price Index only rose at a rate of 1.6 percent. But that's about average; in the period 1995-2011, expanded basic service price rose 157 percent - or more than three times the rate of inflation.
The survey covers 2010, and in that year the average monthly rate for expanded basic service (the most popular service) stood at $57.46. Attempting to put a cheery face on the rise, the FCC noted that the average price per channel fell 2.1 percent. But of course subscribers have virtually no choice as to the number of channels in any price tier, so that the cable company could very well add channels, but it doesn't mean that subscribers either want them or watch them.
The survey was large and comprehensive, reaching 485 noncompetitive communities and 315 competitive ones. As the FCC noted, effective competition occurred when consumers could choose between cable and direct broadcast satellite or wireline, as well as cable, providers.
Now, competition in many parts of the country is being threatened by the impending Verizon-Big Cable deal. By combining with the major cable companies, and by limiting its build-out of FiOS, Verizon is weakening consumer choice, as well threatening quality of service and job growth.
The FCC report, then, just adds bad news for TV subscribers.
Report On Cable Industry Prices (FCC, Aug. 13, 2012)
Nadler, Higgins renew call to stop Verizon-Cable deal (Speed Matters, Aug. 10, 2012)
Verizon deal hangs in balance ((Speed Matters, Aug. 10, 2012)