FCC says cable rates continue to rise

A federal antitrust case against DirecTV doesn't allege price-fixing or an illegal boycott, but rather illegal information sharing with rival pay-TV firms.
(Elise Amendola / Associated Press)

Cable bills are continuing to rise, according to a report from the Federal Communications Commission.

The average monthly price for expanded basic service was $64.41 in 2012, a 5.1% increase over 2011, the regulatory agency said. The Consumer Price Index rose just 1.6% during the same 12-month period.

Programming costs are big part of rising bills and according the FCC study, the price per-channel for subscribers rose 2.1% to an average of 48 cents per channel.

Interestingly, in markets where the cable company had no significant competition the average cost was $63.03 in 2012 while markets with video options had average bills of $66.14 a month.

At the same time, the average price per-channel was lower in markets with competition. In the markets without what the FCC defines as “effective competition,” the average price per channel is 51 cents. In markets with competition, the price tag per channel was 45 cents.


The FCC also looked at prices for satellite broadcasters DirecTV and Dish during the same period. Extended basic service on Dish averages $59.99 a month while DirecTV costs $63.99.

DirecTV’s extended basic package has 211 channels compared with 160 for cable. Dish had fewer than 150 channels.

Both DirecTV and Dish have lower per-channel costs, which is likely because their size and national presence allows them to negotiate more favorable fees for programming than many cable operators.