LULAC Criticizes Martin on À La Carte - Broadcasting & Cable

LULAC Criticizes Martin on À La Carte

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The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) was quick to criticize FCC Chairman Kevin Martin for his continued advocacy of cable à la carte, in this case during a Senate Commerce Committee oversight hearing Thursday, saying his "dogmatic pursuit" of the issue could be disastrous.

"While consumers have enormous choice among channels, they have little control over how many channels they are able to buy," Martin told the legislators. "For those who want to receive 100 channels or more, today’s most popular cable packages may be a good value. But according to Nielson, most viewers watch fewer then two dozen channels. For them, the deal isn’t as good."

Martin also cited the 93% rise in cable prices between 1995 and 2005, a figure the cable industry continues to point out does not take into account the boom in channels and other services that go into that rising figure.

Martin has pushed The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) was quick to criticize FCC Chairman Kevin Martin for his continued advocacy of cable à la carte as a way to reduce cable prices and to give parents more control over content they don't want in their homes.

The cable industry argues that à la carte is not only an unworkable business model--like forcing newspapers to sell their sports sections individually--but would threaten the survival of niche services that would not get sufficiently sampled if not bundled with must-see cable nets like ESPN.

LULAC Executive Director Brent Wilkes agrees. “Mr. Martin’s dogmatic pursuit of per-channel charge regulations for cable TV would be disastrous for American consumers," he said in a statement after the hearing, "ringing in a new era of higher prices and less program diversity."

"Minority and niche programmers rely on the expanded basic cable bundle to attract viewers and advertising revenue," said Wilkes, "and almost every expert – the GAO, Booz Allen, CRS, and even the FCC – has shown that the policies Mr. Martin promotes would raise prices on consumers, including the middle-class and Hispanic consumers for which LULAC advocates.”

A study produced under FCC Chairman Michael Powell concluded that the à la carte model was unfeasible, but Martin commissioned his own study that refuted that assertion.

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