Today, the video market is fully competitive and the array of choices continues to grow. More than 32 million consumers now subscribe to cable’s competitor as multiple video providers – including Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS), alternative broadband providers like RCN and the nation’s two largest telephone companies – vie for customer loyalty, each trying to provide unique new products. As a result of this competition, a wide new variety of services – both video and non-video – are available to consumers from multiple providers.
Fifteen years ago, cable commanded 95 percent of the multichannel television market but with fierce competition from DBS, telephone companies, and other broadband providers, cable’s market share has fallen to 68.2% according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as of June 2006. The FCC noted in its twelfth annual report to Congress on the state of competition in the video market, “Competition in the delivery of video programming services has provided consumers with increased choice, better picture quality, and greater technological innovation” (FCC 06-11: paragraph 5).
In this competitive era, the guiding principle for policymakers and regulators should be that all services should be treated alike and the government should not pick winners and losers by giving one technology or industry and advantage over others.