Background Note | HBS Case Collection | October 1990 (Revised March 1993)

Note on Cable Television Regulation

by Willis M. Emmons III


Examines the evolution of the U.S. cable television industry since its inception in the early 1950s. Particular emphasis is given to the roles played by technology, consumer demand, and regulation at both the local and federal level. Designed to facilitate a conceptual analysis of natural monopoly, market contestability, and intangible property rights. Financial statements from a major cable company are included to support a discussion of the basic economics of the cable television business. Focal points include legislative proposals to: 1) reregulate cable service rates, 2) allow local telephone companies to offer cable television service, and 3) to restrict the vertical integration of cable companies into programming. Updated through the passage of the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992.

Keywords: Technology; Demand and Consumers; Government Legislation; Business Growth and Maturation; Monopoly; Television Entertainment; Telecommunications Industry; Media and Broadcasting Industry;


Emmons, Willis M., III. "Note on Cable Television Regulation." Harvard Business School Background Note 391-022, October 1990. (Revised March 1993.)