Cable-Programming Execs to Martin: A la Carte Proposal Anti-Consumer
Top Cable Programmers Urge Federal Communications Commission Chairman to Stay Away from a la Carte
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 4/15/2008 7:39:00 PM
Top cable-programming executives told Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin he should focus on the DTV transition rather than an a la carte proposal in which cable channels above a certain price -- say $0.75-$1 per subscriber, per month -- would have to be offered separately, or a la carte.
In a letter to Martin Tuesday, ESPN president George Bodenheimer, MTV Networks chairman Judy McGrath, Universal president Jeff Gaspin, Disney Media Networks co-chairman Anne Sweeney, Turner Broadcasting System chairman Phil Kent and Fox Network Group president Tony Vinciquerra said Martin's suggestion, floated at a cable convention last week, would be devastating to consumers and beyond the FCC's authority anyway.
They added that the result would be popular networks "stripped out of expanded basic, forcing consumers to pay an extra charge to watch them."
The cable-programming executives said the move would inevitably lead to price controls, and that the most successful networks would be penalized for their popularity.
They added that the only consumer who would pay less was the "rare" one who buys only a handful of channels, and even they may not benefit from the price break because programming quality would suffer under a "government-mandated" a la carte regime.
As cable programmers have long argued, the executives said diverse programming services would not get launched and many that already launched would not survive.
They warned that consumers would be "outraged" by the move and would wind up paying more for less.
The letter was filed as a comment in the FCC's current proceeding on program tying and the commission's program-access rules.
Basic cable depends on ad revenues. A la carte kills the economic model of cable that spawned the creation of cable-exclusive programming.
Memo to Martin: You're a REPUBLICAN... let the marketplace decide and keep your hands off cable programming pricing. One exception: FCC should mandate that public service programming, including all news channels, should be included in a very low cost lifeline package.
That said, I'd like to see an "a la carte" all-news channel -- on FREE broadcast DTV. Who's going to be first? Remember the old All News Channel on broadcast? An all-newser would prosper on DTV... especially if it launched as a free HDTV channel.
Victor Livingston - 4/19/2008 3:16:00 AM EDT
What''''s ironic is that the cable lobby''''s characterization of forced a la carte pricing upon the consumer is probably the impact upon their own business model, and not the consumer.
I don''''t think the cable industry is receptive to the notion that cable rates have risen to such a level that the consumer is willing to accept much less in terms of programming in order to reduce their cable bills. It''''s not a question of whether an a la carte menu based upon a commensurate number of cable channels is more or less than under the currently imposed "all or none" pricing model, but whether the consumer, given a choice, can tailor a subscription package that saves him money by eliminating most of the channels not watched, as well as some of the channels rarely watched.
Jay Cable - 4/16/2008 1:57:00 PM EDT
No consumer has ever wanted to be forced into packages. It will be interesting to see if the government will follow through on this attempt to give consumers what they've always wanted, to choose what they pay for.
Jon - 4/16/2008 12:37:00 PM EDT
No related content found.
No Top Articles
Digital Rapids provides market-leading software and hardware solutions, technology and expertise for transforming live and on-demand video to reach wider audiences on the latest viewing platforms more efficiently, more effectively and more profitably. Empowering applications from..more