Must Carry Regulations for Cable Television Systems: An Empirical Analysis
The 1992 Cable Act requires systems to carry local broadcasters. Noncarriage of local stations may represent an attempt by cable systems to disadvantage rivals, and thereby raise the prices of advertising and cable service. Alternatively, noncarriage might represent the efficient replacement of low-valued channels with more highly-valued programming. This study attempts to discriminate between these hypotheses with data on cable carriage decisions. The results support the efficiency hypothesis. Systems selling advertising are less likely to drop local stations than nonadvertisers. Dropped stations tend to have low audience ratings, and tend to originate in a different geographic market from the system. Copyright 1997 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
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