Hot Numbers: FCC’s 70/70 Data Source Explains the Data

Warren Communications’ Dan Warren: Not All Cable Systems Responded

When Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin revealed last month that he believed the cable industry had surpassed the 70/70 threshold, Dan Warren perked up: It was data from his Warren Communications that Martin was relying on.

"Our reporter was writing a story about the chairman’s draft," said Warren, whose company publishes news and information on the TV, telecommunications and electronics industries. The company realized "it was based heavily, if not exclusively, on our data."

According to Warren, the FCC called Michael Taliaferro, the editor of Warren’s TV and Cable Fact Book, last summer looking for some raw data on the cable industry but gave no indication of how it would be used.

Taliaferro supplied two metrics for cable systems with 36 channels or more: the total number of basic subscribers, at 67.16 million, and the total number of homes passed, at 94.18 million. That amounts roughly to a 71% penetration rate.

Other industry observers calculated lower penetration rates, but Warren -- which polls every cable system in the nation every year -- stood by its data.

But while the data can be useful for modeling and extrapolation, Dan Warren said he would have issued some caveats to the FCC had the company known the intended use. Since some cable systems did not respond to the survey, the data aren’t complete -- indeed, they could be lower than the actual numbers. For the commission to draw an accurate conclusion about penetration, Warren explained, it would have to "fill in the blanks."