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FCC releases annual report on the status of competition in the delivery of video programming

The FCC released its ninth annual report to Congress on the status of competition in the market for the delivery of video programming.

The amended Communications Act of 1934 requires the Commission to report annually to Congress on the status of competition in the market for the delivery of video programming. Congress imposed this annual reporting requirement in the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992, also known as the "1992 Cable Act."

The report examines the cable television industry, existing multichannel video programming distributors (MVPD), such as:

  • DBS and other home satellite systems
  • Wireless cable systems using frequencies in the multichannel multipoint distribution service (MMDS)
  • Private cable or satellite master antenna television (SMATV)
  • Broadcast television service and other program distribution technologies
  • Other potential competitors

The report also looked at program delivery over the Internet, home video sales and rentals, local exchange carriers (LECs), electric and gas utilities and broadband service providers (BSPs).

The report examined market structure and competition along with horizontal concentration in the multichannel video marketplace and vertical integration between cable television systems and programming services. The report also looked at technical issues, including cable modems, navigation devices and emerging services.

The report found that cable television still is the dominant technology for the delivery of video programming to consumers in the MVPD marketplace with 76.5 percent of MVPD subscribers receiving their video programming via cable. That is a slight percentage decrease compared to the 78 percent a year earlier.

With 89.9 million households subscribing to both cable and non-cable MVPDs, the total continues to increase and the raw number of cable subscribers continue to grow, reaching almost 68.8 percent, an increase of 250,000 more than the previous year. Although there was an overall gain in subscribers, the report also said that some large cable operators have lost a large number of subscribers. It also said that DBS subscriptions have grown significantly and now represents 20.3 percent of all MVPD subscribers.

The DBS industry added almost two million subscribers over the previous report for a total of about 18 million households as of last June. The report said that continued growth of DBS is still, in part, attributable to the authority granted to DBS operators to distribute local broadcast television stations in their local markets by the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act of 1999, and an increase in the number of markets where such service is offered.

Over the last year, the number of subscribers to MMDS and large dish satellite services continued to decline.

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