The cost of cable TV subscriptions in the US rose by an average 5.4% in 2003, according to the latest government data.

However, media watchdog the Federal Communications Commission points out the price hike was far less than the 7.8% in 2002.

The FCC says in areas where there is "effective competition" cable TV prices rose by 3.6%, but in areas where there is no such rivalry prices increased by 5.6%.

The regulator defines 'competition' not only as other cable firms, but also satellite TV companies such as DirecTV and EchoStar; also telecoms operators like Verizon which plan to offer video-on-demand services via their fibre optic networks.

The FCC's report on TV competition shows the number of homes receiving satellite TV rose to 23.16 million in the period to June 2004 - a fourteen percent increase. Cable TV still leads in the race with 66.1 million customers, but growth in its subscriber numbers has declined to less than one percent.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff