Retrans increased 63% for cable operators in one year, FCC report says

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The amount of broadcast retransmission licensing fees paid by cable operators increased from $7.8 billion in 2013 to $12.7 billion in 2014, or 63.2 percent, according to a report on cable pricing issued this week by the FCC.

In 2013, the average per-subscriber, per-station fee was 75 cents. It increased 43 percent over the next year to $1.07, the agency said. 

The “Report on Cable Industry Prices” is required under the Satellite Television Extension Act Reauthorization (STELAR) Act of 2014. Examining its findings is not too dissimilar from an astronomy exercise — since the report is based on figures as of January 1, 2015, a reader looks at the multichannel universe as it was, not as it is. 

Nonetheless, there’s some interesting data in the report.

For one, the rate of cable video service price increases seems to have slowed. The report shows that the price for the most popular programming tiers, loosely defined as “expanded basic,” increased 2.7 percent to $69.03 from 2014 to 2015. This compared to a 1 percent decline in general inflation at the time.

From 2005 to 2015, the rate of price increase for expanded basic was 4.8 percent. 

The FCC said operators facing “effective competition” jacked up their prices by only 2 percent, while those who didn’t face the same competition level upped their prices by 3.3 percent. 

The average price of cable expanded basic compared favorably to similar DirecTV bundles ($73.92), but the satellite operator offered more channels — 197 vs. 181. 

Cable’s price, however, was undercut by Dish Network, which had a comparable offering priced at $59.99.

For more:
- read this FCC report

Related articles:
FCC more than doubles fees it charges DirecTV and Dish
Set-top box order pulled from FCC’s September meeting agenda at last minute
SNL Kagan revises projected 2020 retrans figure again, moves it up to $10.6B

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