Vol. IV No. 11 6/1/2023
Massachusetts Cable Subscriptions Continue to Plummet
Forwarded by Rich Fredericks, CTSB Executive Director
According to numbers published by the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Cable, the total number of households subscribing to cable television dropped 10% from the end of 2021 to the end of 2022. This reduction represents the largest single year loss in subscribers since data first became public. Overall, cable subscriptions in MA have decreased from approximately 2.2 million at the apex 2013 to 1.5 million at the end of 2022 — a loss of 31% overall.
Technological advances have changed how Massachusetts residents acquire their news and entertainment. Many residents are cancelling cable subscriptions in favor of modern, often less expensive services offered by streaming entertainment companies like Netflix, Disney +, Apple TV and Hulu.
The issue for MA municipalities and the community media centers who serve them is that these services do not pay for their use of public rights of way as traditional cable always has. In an age of remote participation and a lack of local media coverage, the community media center in MA has found itself in the untenable situation of facing increased demand for services with less funding.
A 2023 survey of Mass Access members reports that 71% of member organizations cite increased coverage of municipal meetings since 2020 and 59% report decreased funding in that same time frame. A Possible Solution
An Act to modernize funding for community media programming (S.34/H.74) would modernize MA law by charging a 5% assessment on the gross annual revenue of streaming entertainment companies doing business in the Commonwealth. 20% of the funds collected would stay with the state and the remaining 80% would be split evenly between municipalities and community media organizations serving them.
Harold French. Photo: Joan Gallos