Cable Rates Up 5.8%, FCC Says

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The Federal Communications Commission's latest cable-rate survey found that
they rose an average of 5.8 percent over 12 months ending last July, up from a
4.5 percent hike the previous year.

The average monthly charge for basic service, cable-programming-service tiers
and equipment totaled $34.11 in markets where cable operators do not face
effective competition, up from $32.25 in July 1999, the FCC said Wednesday.

In competitive markets, the charge rose to $32.40 from $30.63. Both were 5.8
percent increases.

The 1998-to-1999 survey calculated a 4.5 percent rise in cable charges. The
year before that, the increase was 5.2 percent.

Operators facing competition charge 5.3 percent less than what those not
facing competition charge -- the same margin as in July 1999.

'Competitive' operators returned 318 usable surveys, representing 2.6 million
subscribers, compared with 403 'noncompetitive' operators with 11.3 million
subscribers.

As might be expected, operators also reported adding channels, introducing
digital services and collecting more nonvideo revenue.

The competitive group offered an average of 59.9 channels, up 4 percent from
the year before. The noncompetitive group offered 54.8 channels, an increase of
5.4 percent.

The percentage of cable operators offering digital tiers rose to 54 percent
from 27 percent in July 1999. Nonvideo revenue as a percentage of total revenue
rose to 3.5 percent from 1.5 percent a year earlier.

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