Direct Broadcast Satellites

A Competitive Alternative to Cable Television?

by Leland Johnson, Deborah Castleman


Full Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 4.6 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.


Purchase Print Copy

 FormatList Price Price
Add to Cart Paperback105 pages $30.00 $24.00 20% Web Discount

This report presents an economic and engineering analysis of direct broadcast satellites' (DBS) prospects for competing with cable television systems in the United States and, hence, alleviating the need for extensive reregulation of cable. The authors examine relevant technologies, some implications of the technological advances that can reasonably be foreseen, and the comparative costs of DBS and cable systems. They also consider the prospects for second cable, wireless cable, satellite master antenna cable systems, and home satellite dish systems as alternatives to DBS systems to assess whether they hold more promise than DBS as competitors to cable. They then address a number of policy issues, including the effects on local broadcasting, whether cable operators should be permitted to buy into DBS systems, and the problems posed by access to programming. The findings suggest that high-power DBS systems are more likely than are the alternatives to provide widespread competition to cable. However, the outcome is dependent on several interrelated economic and technical factors, including the cost of earth terminals, the degree to which video compression reduces the per-channel cost of satellites, and the level of operating expenses including program acquisition.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Report series. The report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 1993 that represented the principal publication documenting and transmitting RAND's major research findings and final research.

Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.