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Satellite Firms Gaining on Cable

January 15, 2002|From Bloomberg News

AT&T Corp. and other cable television companies' share of the U.S. pay-TV market slid last year as satellite rivals signed up customers at a faster rate, the Federal Communications Commission said.

EchoStar Communications Corp. and other satellite-TV firms increased their subscriber base to 19.3 million homes as of June 2001, up 15% from a year earlier, the report said. Cable had 78% of homes in June, down from 80%.

Policymakers are focusing on competition between cable and satellite broadcasters as regulators review EchoStar's proposed $35-billion purchase of Hughes Electronics Corp., parent of DirecTV, the only rival to EchoStar's Dish network. The FCC also is rewriting a limit on the number of homes a single cable company may serve.

Overall, 88.3 million households paid for video services as of June 2001, up 4.6% from 84.4 million homes the previous year. Cable TV had 69 million subscribers, a 1.9% increase from the previous year. Cable prices rose 4.24% during the year, while the consumer price index increased 3.25%.

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