1991 Survey of Cable Television Rates and Services

T-RCED-91-82: Published: Jul 18, 1991. Publicly Released: Jul 18, 1991.

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GAO discussed its survey of cable rates and services from November 1986 to April 1991, focusing on changes since December 1989. GAO found that: (1) rates to customers continue to rise faster than the rate of inflation, even though they have moderated somewhat; (2) 66 percent of the subscribers for the lowest priced basic cable service incurred rate increases of more than 10 percent between December 1989 and April 1991; (3) the average monthly rate for the most popular basic cable services increased by 5 percent, from $16.33 to $18.84, with an increase of two channels; (4) while the number of systems offering only one tier or level of service decreased by about 25 percent, the number of systems offering two or more tiers increased from 16.6 percent to 41.4 percent; (5) legislative proposals introduced in 1990 would have generally restricted regulation to only the lowest priced basic cable services; (6) the Federal Communications Commission's modified competition regulation would not affect about 59 percent of the cable systems, which serve 80 percent of the nation's subscribers; and (7) overall monthly revenue to cable operators increased an average of 4.2 percent between December 1989 and December 1990, and 4.7 percent between December 1990 and March 1991.

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