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FCC Scraps Per-Channel Cable Price Tally

In its most recent cable pricing survey, released Wednesday, the FCC dropped its per-channel accounting of cable rates.

That is the figure, often pointed to by the cable industry, that goes beyond the raw price increase to include the increasing number of channels that price covers.

The FCC had previously included that figure, but said it was dropping it because "operators do not permit consumers to purchase channels included in the expanded basic package on an individual basis." FCC has pushed the cable industry to offer its service a la carte. Even releasing a study that countered one by the previous chairman finding that a la carte was not economically feasible.

"If cable operators offered consumers the option to purchase channels individually, it would be appropriate to consider the prices charged to consumers for those channels," the FCC said in releasing its report.

As it is, said the FCC, "the use of this data...would suggest that quality-adjusted prices would be unchanged if there were a 10 percent increase in monthly cable rates and a 10 percent increase in the number of channels; however, this does not take into account how consumers might value the additional channels.In particular, a consumer who placed no value on the additional channels would see a 10 percent increase in his or her monthly cable rates, but no increase in quality."