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Subs flock to satellite; cable stable

Number of sat subs up 14%

The number of satellite subscriptions continues to grow, while cable TV’s sub count has leveled off, according to an annual report on TV competition released Friday by the FCC.

The number of satellite homes increased by almost 14% to 23.16 million over the 12-month period ended in June. Meanwhile, the Federal Communications Commission said cable subs increased less than 1% from the previous period to 66.1 million.

Still, “the industry continues to grow in terms of revenue; collective, all-day audience shares for nonbroadcast networks; and spending on programming,” the FCC said.

In addition, cable rates increased 5.4% in 2003, five times the 1.1% rate of inflation but still a slower pace than in the previous year (7.8%). Those figures came from a separate report also released by the FCC.

Charge for cable service and equipment rose to an average of $45.32 per month, up from $42.99 the year prior.

Rates for systems that didn’t face “effective competition” rose 5.6% in 2003, while rates for systems in competitive markets went up 3.6%.

The FCC noted, however, that cable operators also increased the number of channels offered during the year, with channels up by 4% to an average of 72.5 for operators in competitive markets.

(Dow Jones contributed to this report.)

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