The year 2002 could be the first in which the cable industry as a whole
suffers a net loss of subscribers, the Federal Communications Commission said in
a report released Tuesday.
In the report, the FCC said cable operators added about 250,000 subscribers
over the 12-month period ending June 30, 2002. But subscriber losses at AT&T
Broadband and other cable operators in the second half of 2002 could mean a
first-ever net decline in cable's subscriber totals.
The FCC said that as of June 30, cable operators had 68.8 million
subscribers, or 76.5 percent of the pay TV market. A year ago, cable controlled
78 percent of the pay TV market.
The report also documented continued growth by direct-broadcast satellite
providers. The FCC said DBS carriers grew from 16 million to 18 million
subscribers, representing 20.3 percent of the pay TV market.
Cable's potential net subscriber loss in 2002 would likely be offset by gains
in other areas. As of Sept. 30, cable operators had 18 million digital-video
subscribers (matching the total number of DBS subscribers), 10 million
high-speed-data subscribers and 2 million local phone