FCC's intl bureau celebrates 10th anniversary

MUMBAI: A few days ago US media regulatory body the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) celebrated the 10th anniversary of its international bureau.

Donald Abelson who serves as chief of FCC's International Bureau met with members of the press to discuss technology, market and regulatory changes over the last ten years, and their impact on industry and consumers.

Abelson said, "The Commission can be proud of the International Bureau's accomplishments over its ten-year history. I am particularly proud of the bureau's fulfillment of its mission to connect the globe for the good of US consumers."

Over the Bureau's ten-year history, consumers of satellite and international communications services have benefited from Commission and Bureau actions that have fostered competition and the provision of new and innovative services. Landmarks since the Bureau's inception in 1994 include:

-The international satellite system is in private hands and the number of providers (both domestic and foreign) offering service to the US has grown.

- The number of satellite television subscribers in the US has grown from 2.8 million to 23.1 million.

- Satellite radio services were launched and now have 2.58 million subscribers.

A la carte pricing will not reduce television bill in the US: Meanwhile The media bureau of the FCC has released its report on the efficacy of 'a la carte' pricing in the pay-television service industry in the US.

The report found that although an a la carte option would allow consumers to pay for only the programming they choose, given current viewing practices, few consumers would experience lower bills for multi-channel programming. The report also includes several policy recommendations that the Congress and Commission should consider to enhance consumer choice, foster competition and provide consumers with the tools to prevent objectionable programming from entering their home.

The report estimates that the impact on retail rates of pure or mandatory a la carte sales indicates that only those consumers who would purchase fewer than nine programming networks may see a reduction in their monthly cable bill. Consumers who purchase at least nine networks will likely face an increase in their monthly bills.

The average cable household in the US watches approximately 17 channels, including broadcast stations. If the average household purchased each of these channels under an a la carte regime, it would likely face a monthly rate increase under a la carte sales of between 14 and 30 per cent.

FCC chairman Michael Powell said, "We remain committed to our long-standing policy goals of making communications and media technologies available to all Americans at affordable rates and fostering diversity in our nation's media. Many Americans are frustrated with year after year increases in their pay-television bills and we will continue to address those concerns through the recommendations provided in this report and other avenues available to the Commission."

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