1991 Survey of Cable Television Rates and Services

RCED-91-195: Published: Jul 18, 1991. Publicly Released: Aug 15, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on cable television rates and services, focusing on: (1) changes in basic cable television rates for both the lowest priced service and the most popular service available to cable subscribers; (2) the number of channels offered; (3) the levels of service offered; and (4) the overall revenue to cable system operators per subscriber.

GAO found that: (1) monthly rates from December 31, 1989 to April 1, 1991 for the lowest priced basic increased by 9 percent from $15.95 to $17.34 per subscriber, with the average number of channels decreasing by 1; (2) the most popular basic cable service monthly rates increased by 15 percent, from $16.33 to $18.84 per subscriber, with the number of channels increasing by two; (3) between December 31, 1989, and April 1, 1991 the number of systems offering only one tier of service decreased from 83.4 to 58.6 percent and the number of systems offering two or more tiers increased from 16.6 to 41.4 percent; (4) legislative proposals introduced in fiscal year 1990 would have generally restricted rate regulation to only the lowest priced basic service; (5) average monthly revenue to cable operators per subscriber increased 4.2 percent, from $26.36 to $27.47 between December 1989 and December 1990; and (6) the 4.7 percent increase in revenue, between December 1990 and March 1991, was partly due to two pay-per-view offerings during March which generated substantial revenue for some systems.