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Cable Rates Rise 3.1 Percent in 2013

WASHINGTON—The cost of an expanded basic cable TV package rose 3.1 percent to $66.61 on average across the United States last year, according to the latest price report from the Federal Communications Commission. The report said that 88 percent of cable TV subscribers have expanded basic packages, at least.

The percentage increase is just shy of twice that of the 1.6 percent rise in the Consumer Price Index for the same period. The compound annual growth rate since 1995 for expanded basic has been 5.9 percent compared to 2.4 percent for the CPI.

The cost-per-channel rose 0.9 percent for 2013 to 50 cents—unchanged since 1995 on an average annual compound basis.

The FCC conducts the price survey annually to gauge what cable operators are charging for service and equipment, and how those charges are effected by competition. For 2013, survey polled 800 cable operators in two groups—315 of 10,129 meeting the statutory test for competition, and 485 of 23,506 not meeting it.

While the average price of expanded basic increased more in markets with no competition, it cost less than in those where the competition statute was met. In markets with no competition, the price rose 3.2 percent to $65.32. For those meeting the statute, the price rose 2.9 percent, to $68.16.

However, the price-per-channel was higher in noncompetitive markets versus those with competition: 1.6 percent to 53 cents compared to a decrease of 0.1 percent to 45 percent.