FCC Responds to Criticism of Cable-Price Data

Spokeswoman Mary Diamond: ‘No One Except the Cable Industry Believes Consumers Are Paying Less for Cable than They Used To’

"No one except the cable industry believes consumers are paying less for cable than they used to." That was the message from a spokeswoman for Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin Friday.

That was FCC spokeswoman Mary Diamond's response to criticism of Martin's citation of cable-price data during a Hill hearing earlier this week. Those criticisms were leveled in a letter from National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Kyle McSlarrow to the ranking members of the House Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee, which held the hearing.

"These are not chairman Martin's numbers: They are the commission's numbers unanimously adopted by the commission in the most recent cable-price survey," Diamond said. "Regardless of whose numbers are being used, recent surveys show that 82% of consumers believe cable prices are too high and 71% say they don't want to pay for channels they don’t watch.”

She added, "Nielsen said the number of channels watched has increased by only a handful, so that price per channel isn't a relevant measurement because consumers aren't allowed to purchase channels individually, so they can't take advantage of that reduction because they are having to buy many more channels."

Diamond cited an October 2007 Zogby poll for the consumer survey and 1995 and 2005 Nielsen surveys for the average number of channels watched (from 10.1 in 1995 to 15.7 in 2005).