News that a la carte legislation won't be going anywhere in this Congress would have been welcome news at the Broadcast Cable Financial Management Association conference in Atlanta.
According to a BCFM summary of events, during a panel session on the subject, Yes Network Chairman Leo Hindery said that if a la carte was forced on the industry, most cable networks would disappear.
Some legislators have argued that giving subscribers the freedom to pick and choose their networks would be one way for the cable industry to address the issue of indecency and parental control over the programming that comes into their home. Currently, cable is not covered by FCC indecency regs, but broadcast networks in congressional hearings early in the year repeatedly suggested that viewers don't make a distinction between the cable nets and broadcast channels that come in over the wire or via satellite, so why should the FCC.
Hindery said that it would be ironic if the outrage over indecency ever succeeded in pushing through such a la carte law. "All we'll have left is more of the programming that appeals to the widest possible audiences," he said,"which means more reality TV and more of the tawdry, debasing programming."
Seconding that were Andy Heller of Turner and Bob Wilson of Cox Cable. Wilson also warned that there would be a backlash when consumers discovered that reducing their channel lineups by half would not halve their bill, "We need to do a better job of explaining the value of our approach toward packaging," Wilson said.