Is Cable Television a Monopoly?

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Is cable television a monopoly? According to the theory of the 'invisible hand' of the marketplace, as advocated by Adam Smith, the marketplace naturally determines the optimal price of a good or service. But even Adam Smith viewed the development of monopolies with some trepidation and believed that government intervention was required to cease their proliferation. During the 1980s to the 1990s, it seemed fairly clear to most industry analysts that cable television functioned as a monopoly in a manner that was deleterious to consumers. Cable television had few competitors, except in the form of analog 'rabbit ears' which did not provide the full range of channels or quality that cable provided. In many areas, only a single cable company dominated the market and subscribers had few alternative options. However, in the era of the Internet, the market has changed. Cable television has been challenged by many alternative venues of media consumption, most notably in the form of the Internet. "There has been some competition from satellite TV players and (in a few areas) TV over IP" (Masnick 2008). "Thanks to the rise of Netflix, Hulu and hardware like the Roku box and Apple TV, cutting the cord to cable TV doesn't mean cutting yourself off from your favorite shows and channels" (Glaser 2010). However, most high-speed Internet consumers receive their Internet connection from the cable company, which indirectly funnels money to support cable TV. While consumers can use
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