Cable Dominates Delivery and Programming Choices
Today, seven out of ten households actually pay for the television they receive because it is delivered by a cable operator. Cable originally started as a way to deliver broadcast channels to rural areas or urban communities with poor reception. It has since evolved into a major media force, with just a handful of companies controlling the development of much of the programming they air and able to raise prices, unchecked by any real competition or regulation.
Satellite television has yet to emerge as a real head-on competitor to cable for a variety of technical reasons, the most important of which is that cable providers often bundle their TV offerings with high-speed Internet access –something that satellite providers generally cannot do.
Phone companies have begun offering television services, but only in a few markets. It remains unclear whether phone companies will become strong and aggressive competitors with cable, potentially driving down prices for consumers.
Positioned to continue their media and market dominance, cable companies are fighting to keep people from picking and choosing the channels they want and also battling telephone companies to connect homes to high-speed Internet services. Consumers should be concerned about the implications of these fights.