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Where is the FCC's Annual Video Competition Report?

Progress & Freedom Foundation Progress Snapshot Paper, Vol. 4, No. 11, May 2009

5 Pages Posted: 30 May 2009  

Barbara S. Esbin

Cinnamon Mueller

Adam D. Thierer

George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Date Written: May 15, 2008


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is required by the 1992 Cable Act to produce an "Annual Assessment of the Status of Competition in the Market for the Delivery of Video Programming," otherwise known as the "Annual Video Competition Report." These annual reports are eagerly awaited not merely by lawmakers but everyone who monitors developments in the video marketplace.

Twelve installments of the Annual Video Competition Report have been produced since the requirement took effect, but the 13th annual report has inexplicably been stuck in regulatory limbo for almost two years. When the report comes out, it will reflect the state of the video marketplace as of June 30, 2006, which is when the last reporting cycle ended.

It is difficult to avoid speculating that one cause of delay is its failure to provide the critical empirical support for FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's "70/70" plan for expanding the Commission's powers over the cable industry, a plan that was widely discussed in the weeks leading up to the report's adoption last November.

Importantly, however, when the FCC voted on the latest annual report at that November meeting, the agency did released a handful of encouraging findings from the report, albeit without much fanfare. Vertical integration has fallen steadily since the first Annual Video Competition Report was issued. Most new pay TV channels today are independently owned and offer an unprecedented diversity of programming options.

The summary of the upcoming report also mentioned that although cable continues to serve the largest percentage of MVPD subscribers, its market share had fallen to approximately 68.2 percent as of June 2006 and that market share of cable's largest competitor, DBS service, had increased as of June 2006 to 29 percent.

These trends are a strong sign of how healthy and vibrantly competitive this marketplace is today.

Keywords: FCC,video competition,media marketplace,free market,video competition report,McDowell,cable industry,vertical integration,cable operators,cable networks,video programming,TV programming,Cable Act,video markets,MVPD,DBS,cable competition,

JEL Classification: L11,L13,L12,L16, L42,L43,L41,L44,L40,L51,L50,L52,L63,L82,L86,L96,L98,O21,O38,O33

Suggested Citation

Esbin, Barbara S. and Thierer, Adam D., Where is the FCC's Annual Video Competition Report? (May 15, 2008). Progress & Freedom Foundation Progress Snapshot Paper, Vol. 4, No. 11, May 2009. Available at SSRN: or

Barbara S. Esbin (Contact Author)

Cinnamon Mueller ( email )

1333 New Hampshire Ave., NW
2nd Floor
Washington, DC 200036
United States

Adam D. Thierer

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3351 Fairfax Drive
4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201-4433
United States

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