National Survey of Cable Television Rates and Services

T-RCED-89-60: Published: Aug 3, 1989. Publicly Released: Aug 3, 1989.

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GAO discussed the results of its national survey of 1,451 cable television systems, comparing changes in rates, services, and revenues from December 1, 1986, just prior to deregulation of cable rates, to October 31, 1988. GAO noted that, for the period surveyed: (1) monthly rates for the lowest-priced basic cable services increased by 29 percent per subscriber, with 62 percent of subscribers incurring rate increases between 10 and 40 percent; (2) rates for the most popular basic service increased by 26 percent; (3) cable systems increased the number of basic channels they offered from an average of 24 to 30 channels; (4) rates for premium movie services decreased slightly, both individually and for combinations of premium channels; (5) rates for basic services not regulated before December 1986 increased by 25 percent, while rates for services which had been regulated increased by 31 percent; (6) most cable systems did not change their practice of charging above the basic service rate for options; (7) monthly cable revenues per subscriber increased by about 14 percent, from $21.58 to $24.68; (8) overall cable subscriptions increased by 15 percent, while the number of homes accessible to cable increased by 16 percent; (9) the number of subscribers, as a percentage of cable-accessible homes, increased from 55 to 57 percent; and (10) the number of subscribers purchasing premium channels increased by 14 percent.

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