FCC: 14 Percent of Viewers Depend on Off-Air TV Signals

The FCC adopted the 13th Annual Report to Congress on Video Competition and Notice of Inquiry for the 14th Annual Report Tuesday.

As of Thursday night the text of the Report had not been released. A news release revealed some of the findings in the report—for example, that the number of TV households increased slightly from June 2005 to June 2006, from 109.6 million to 110.2 million.

Also, the number of households using a multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) increased to 95.9 million compared with 94.2 million in June 2005. Cable TV subscribers represented 68.2 percent of the MVPD subscribers.

Using data from the Nielsen Co., the report estimates that as of Jan. 2007, 15.5 million households (about 14 percent) rely solely on off-air TV broadcasts for video programming.

The Report acknowledged that many households subscribing to an MVPD also relied on off-air signals for some of the television sets in those homes.

It indicated that the number of commercial and noncommercial TV stations had increased slightly during the period from June 30, 2005 to June 30, 2006—from 1,747 to 1,753.

According to the report, there were approximately 1,600 DTV stations on the air as of Jan. 2007.

The number of “wireless cable” subscribers stabilized at about 100,000 as of June 2006, a significant drop from the peak of 1.2 million subscribers in 1996.

The full report should be available soon on the FCC Media Bureau web page.

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.