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Price-Quality Tradeoffs and Welfare Effects in Cable Television Markets

Thomas Beard, Robert Ekelund (), George Ford and Richard Saba ()

Journal of Regulatory Economics, 2001, vol. 20, issue 2, 107-23

Abstract: The Telecommunications Act of 1996 reduced restrictions on the cable TV industry, providing completely deregulated rates in March 1999. Prior to that time the cable industry was generally allowed to increase rates so long as additional channels were supplied. In this paper we develop a simple tradeoff between price and quality in order to calculate the welfare tradeoff to consumers of the provision of one additional satellite channel. Gauging the impact of this quality change on consumers alone, we conclude that the increase in consumer gains due to an extra channel provision are almost exactly counterbalanced by reductions due to price increases. This ceteris paribus calculation does not mean, of course, that dynamic supply effects from the provision and availability of more channels will not increase future competition and potential consumer benefits. Copyright 2001 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

Date: 2001
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