BY JONATHAN BLUM, KAGAN The struggle between Full Channel TV and Cox Communications over Bristol County, R.I., is particularly vivid. Rhode Island is one the few states that collects actual subscriber data. The lesson to be learned is clear: Competition has made Bristol a tough place for cable operators. The incumbent, Full Channel, began 2000 with a 60% penetration rate, or about 11,900 subs; by early 2002 that number shrank to 47%, or 9,434 customers. The reasons for the drastic loss are twofold: Cox rolled out its own network that featured improved products and service and grabbed about 2,900 customers by the beginning of 2003. DBS did the rest of the damage. We estimate that satellite now takes 4,000 subs, for roughly a 20% market penetration. In Bristol, either you offer high-quality products and serve your customers well, or they’ll surely go someplace else. For a complete look at the cable industry’s performance relative to other media, see “Cable TV Advertising Report” at www.kagan.com/cw.