Study: Average Cable TV Bill Is $71 Per Month

Cable TV service bills increased 7.5% in the second half of 2008, with the average U.S. cable bill at $71 -- an increase of $5 from the year prior, according to a study from research firm Centris.

The time period in the Centris report reflected an average month from July through December 2008. The report is based on an ongoing survey program of approximately 1,000 weekly interviews with consumers.

According to Centris, last year's increase in the average cable TV bill was in contrast to the year earlier when it found no significant change between 2006 and 2007.

The Federal Communications Commission tracks the average monthly price of expanded-basic cable service -- excluding premium programming packages and extra options.

In January, the agency's Media Bureau issued a report pegging monthly expanded basic at an industry average $49.65 per month, an increase of 122% since 1995.

Among other findings in the Centris report, the research firm estimated that nearly 46 million households have an HDTV set while only 74% of them -- about 34 million -- subscribe to HDTV service.

About 55% of households reported having a large-screen TV set (32 inches or more), up from 49% in the second half of 2007. All told, 50 million U.S. households have a digital TV, according to Centris.