Cable Industry Defends Higher Consumer Prices

The cable television industry is defending itself against a report showing prices consumers pay for cable TV have risen 77 percent since 1996.

The spike is double the rate of inflation and came as the same US Bureau of Labor Statistics report showed that cable viewers watch only 13 percent of average 118 channels of programming available to them.

The report also noted cable customers pay an average of $60 per month for the programming and that predicted competition from forms of new media, such as the Internet, music players and cell phones, has largely failed due to agreements between cable companies and Hollywood entertainment producers to sell channels only in bundles.

“If each channel depended on individual consumers electing to pay individually for it, this would slash potential viewership and seriously hurt the ability of most channels to attract their current level of advertising dollars,” said Jenni Moyer, a spokeswoman for Comcast.

A better government study, this one by the FCC, says the real price that consumers pay per hour of TV viewed jumped 50 percent in just the 8 years from 1997 to 2005. This comes closer to settling the dispute and proving that TV viewers are worse off, but it doesn’t seal the deal.