U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) ordered a congressional inquiry on why prices charged by cable-television companies such as AT&T Corp. and Comcast Corp. climbed 7.5% in one year, faster than the rate of inflation.
McCain asked the General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative arm, to study why the average cable-TV bill rose to $36.99 a month as of July 1 from $34.42 a year earlier, according to data reported by the Federal Communications Commission. Cable rates have climbed 43% in the last six years, said Gene Kimmelman, director of Consumers Union's Washington office.
Lawmakers have criticized rising cable-TV prices and have encouraged satellite broadcasters such as EchoStar Communications Corp. and telephone companies to compete with cable. Cable companies blame rate increases on high programming costs.