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"a la carte" Cable


Swiss Cheezhead
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Cartoon Network - WHAT ??? Adult swim! Watch it or die! Tune in after 10pm

Travel - Poker! They run WPT!

HGTV - One show: Rezoned. They show houses that were made from pump towers, warehouses, schools, and churches. Really cool.

 

I've watched Adult Swim quite a few times when drinking beer at buddies' houses. I'm usually entertained, but I'm never inclined to turn it on when I'm at home. :D I do understand, however, that Adult Swim has rabid, loyal fans (like yourself). :D

 

WPT? Is that the "World Poker Tournament" or something? I love playing poker and I used to enjoy watching the WSOP on ESPN, but I lost interest in the last year or so.

 

"Rezoned" sounds cool. I'll have to check that out. :D

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I won't pretend to be 100% educated on the topic, but I know it's far more complicated than that, obviously to the point where McCain has gotten the govt. involved.

 

Suffice it to say that there's not a whole lot of regonal/local competition among cable companies. That's why the organization that represents the cable "giants" (Time Warner, Comcast, etc.) doesn't want "A la carte cable," but the organization that represents the smaller companies likes the idea.

 

The big cable companies suck. They continue to increase their prices and they have numerous local monopolies throughout the country.

 

McCain has the government involved because he's making a run at the presidency, and this is the idiotic crap that the electorate cares about.

 

As to competition, every cable company has to compete with Dish Network and DirecTV. That's three major competitors in every market, not to mention broadcast TV.

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Looking at those 78 channels on my online guide, here's a list of the ones I wouldn't pay for:

 

TLC ("What Not to Wear"?? Thanks for the "learning")

WGN (not a fan of Chicago teams, Chicago news, "Elimidate," "The Beverly Hillbillies," or "Matlock")

Lifetime (I think this channel exists only to remind men that men-hating women still are in charge somewhere)

CNN (maybe "Headline News," but I haven't watched CNN since "Shock and Awe")

Nickelodeon (no kids)

MTV (needs to change its name to "TDTV" -- "Teenage Drivel Television." "Laguna Beach" is the worst show of all time)

A&E (very little art, even less entertainment)

BET (not black)

ABC Family (no kids)

FoxSportsNet (it's never better than ESPN, although "Best Damn" is fairly entertaining)

Disney (no kids)

Cartoon Network (no kids)

HSN (my brain works)

Food (I love food and cooking food and I still don't watch this channel)

Travel (do travel enthusiasts really sit around watching shows about traveling?)

PaxTV/ISATE (what the hell is this? Paid programming 70% of the day??)

FoxNews (like CNN, I'm just not into "news personalities")

HGTV (my apartment has no garden)

Discovery Health (one interesting program a week isn't enough)

Bravo (Kelly Griffin stand-up sandwiched between "Real Housewives of Orange County"? No.)

Golf (I love golfing and I love watching major tournaments -- never tuned into this channel)

CMTV (not a country-music fan)

TVLand (I believe bad, old shows should stay dead)

MSNBC (see CNN and FNC)

Spanish station numero uno (I speak English)

Spanish station numero dos (I speak English)

Spanish station numero tres (I speak English)

Wow...that was painful. Most of those channels shouldn't exist, but I'm paying for them. :D

 

 

Here's a newsflash: even if the government forces cable companies to offer a la carte, they're not going to lower your bill. If you get a hundred channels for $50 per month, they're not going to charge $2/channel for the ones you like. ESPN will be $6.99 per month, your local channels will come in a package for $8.49 per month (first two months free), etc.

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Cable companies are getting a bum rap in this thread (cautionary note - I work for one of them).

 

Cable companies couldn't go to a la carte right now even if they wanted to. It's the programmers that create alot of the pressures for packaging. Example - a couple years ago, ABC launched a new channel, ABC Family. What happened was that any cable company that was renewing its ESPN deal around that time was forced, as part of the ESPN renewal, to not only start carrying ABC Family, but to carry it on the basic tier (where they could get the most viewership and therefore the most advertising dollars). And since ESPN has an unbelievable amount of leverage, most if not all cable companies conceded that point as part of the renewal negotiations. Those that did not concede right away found out pretty quickly that this was a deal-buster from ESPN's point of view, and no cable company in this day and age is going to let ESPN go dark.

 

This kind of thing happens all the time. This is why large programmers like ESPN/ABC, Turner and Viacom can launch new channels far more easily than an independent programmer, because they can use the leverage from their exisitng must-have netwroks to force the distributors (cable and satellite) to carry whatever new channel they might be launching, and in alot of cases, they can force the new channel onto the basic tier, sometimes at the expense of a less well-heeled channel.

 

Aside from that, even for existing channels carriage on the basic tier is often a sticking point in carriage negotiations. That's why you're getting stuck with 78 channels that you'll never watch. A channel might charge considerably less to the cable company if they are carried on the basic tier, or more often, will refuse any deal at all if it does not include placement on the basic tier.

Edited by Easy n Dirty
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Here's a newsflash: even if the government forces cable companies to offer a la carte, they're not going to lower your bill. If you get a hundred channels for $50 per month, they're not going to charge $2/channel for the ones you like. ESPN will be $6.99 per month, your local channels will come in a package for $8.49 per month (first two months free), etc.

 

 

Okay, I'll take your word for it over the word of the FCC and other independent studies.

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Cable companies are getting a bum rap in this thread (cautionary note - I work for one of them).

 

Cable companies couldn't go to a la carte right now even if they wanted to. It's the programmers that create alot of the pressures for packaging. Example - a couple years ago, ABC launched a new channel, ABC Family. What happened was that any cable company that was renewing its ESPN deal around that time was forced, as part of the ESPN renewal, to not only start carrying ABC Family, but to carry it on the basic tier (where they could get the most viewership and therefore the most advertising dollars). And since ESPN has an unbelievable amount of leverage, most if not all cable companies conceded that point as part of the renewal negotiations. Those that did not concede right away found out pretty quickly that this was a deal-buster from ESPN's point of view, and no cable company in this day and age is going to let ESPN go dark.

 

This kind of thing happens all the time. This is why large programmers like ESPN/ABC, Turner and Viacom can launch new channels far more easily than an independent programmer, because they can use the leverage from their exisitng must-have netwroks to force the distributors (cable and satellite) to carry whatever new channel they might be launching, and in alot of cases, they can force the new channel onto the basic tier, sometimes at the expense of a less well-heeled channel.

 

Aside from that, even for existing channels carriage on the basic tier is often a sticking point in carriage negotiations. That's why you're getting stuck with 78 channels that you'll never watch. A channel might charge considerably less to the cable company if they are carried on the basic tier, or more often, will refuse any deal at all if it does not include placement on the basic tier.

 

 

I have no doubt that networks carry some (or maybe most) of the responsibility. I'm sure all of that will be a factor if/when legislative action is taken.

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Either way, it's all about more options for the consumer.

 

if the government is stepping in to dictate "more choice for the consumer", what the consumer actually GETS is anything but. however this shakes out, something tells me we all end up paying more for less.

 

chit like this is what makes me a little lukewarm on mccain. the guy's first instinct is always to regulate.

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A lot of people are billing this as more choice for the consumer, but I’m afraid the end result could be the opposite. If a cable company offers Channel X, and only 5% of their subscribers want to get Channel X, then the cable company might be inclined to just drop that channel altogether. In a way, minority or niche channels are subsidized by the increased subscriber base the more popular channels provide. Besides, do you really think eliminating these third tier channels will cause your cable bill to go down?

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Example - a couple years ago, ABC launched a new channel, ABC Family.

Wasn't ABC the 3rd such owner of that channel, with the previous owners being a Christian network, then Fox, before being sold to ABC, with them adding ABC to the Family Channel? Then there was still the same stipulation as when Fox orignally bought it that the 700 Club still has to be shown on it.

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Wasn't ABC the 3rd such owner of that channel, with the previous owners being a Christian network, then Fox, before being sold to ABC, with them adding ABC to the Family Channel? Then there was still the same stipulation as when Fox orignally bought it that the 700 Club still has to be shown on it.

 

 

Not sure of the specifics, I'm sure you're correct. Either way, ABC/ESPN were insiting that sytems carry this channel, new or otherwise, as a condition of renewing ESPN carriage deals.

 

If what you say is correct, it's an interesting dynamic taking place, wherein ESPN/ABC, or Viacom or Turner for that matter, could purchase a struggling network, presumably at a cut-rate price, and then immediately enhance the value of the network, probably by quite a bit (networks are often valued on a per sub basis), simply by doing their own "packaging" when they sell to the cable and satellite distributors. It's almost foolproof.

Edited by Easy n Dirty
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Okay, I'll take your word for it over the word of the FCC and other independent studies.

 

Perhaps I'm incorrect here, but I think the metric that the FCC and those other studies uses is number of choices, not net cost. It is possible to have more choices without a decrease in cost.

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The big cable companies suck. They continue to increase their prices and they have numerous local monopolies throughout the country.

 

I don't see how one can justify the Federal government forcing the cable companies to do that.

 

I really see it the way Dr. Love does. Why is the federal government involved with private companies and how they price/offer products? That is too much governmental involvement.

 

And there are choices. Here in the Phoenix area, you can have Cox Cable, Qwest, Directv, or Dish Network. Not to mention the local broadcasts. That doesn't reek of a monopoly to me. Maybe in more rural areas of the country you wouldn't have four choices...but you would still have a choice between 2 satellite companies, and more than likely one cable company.

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I really see it the way Dr. Love does. Why is the federal government involved with private companies and how they price/offer products? That is too much governmental involvement.

 

And there are choices. Here in the Phoenix area, you can have Cox Cable, Qwest, Directv, or Dish Network. Not to mention the local broadcasts. That doesn't reek of a monopoly to me. Maybe in more rural areas of the country you wouldn't have four choices...but you would still have a choice between 2 satellite companies, and more than likely one cable company.

 

yup. and if you take AWAY the ability of abc/espn to leverage their stupid fledgling channels, well then for lack of anything else to leverage for they'll just raise the price on the channels people want. would you rather have to have abc-family on channel 685, or pay twice as much for espn?

 

and either way, do we REALLY need the federal government poking around in this?? cripes. :D

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I really see it the way Dr. Love does. Why is the federal government involved with private companies and how they price/offer products? That is too much governmental involvement.

 

 

Aren't FCC liscenses granted by the federal government? Don't municipalities contract out to cable providers to offer services?

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do we REALLY need the federal government poking around in this?? cripes. :D

 

 

I'm guessing there's SOME merit to the idea. At the very least, people care about it and, therefore, their elected representatives should, too. I doubt McCain decided to jump into this fray just because Joe Cornstalk wrote him a letter -- intelligent people usually decide to spend huge chunks of their time on stuff like this for some decent reason.

 

Another thing to consider from a Washington Post article...

 

"As the General Accounting Office has found, 'a la carte' pricing would likely lead to a choice of fewer cable channels at higher prices for consumers," the National Cable & Telecommunications Association said in a statement, referring to a December GAO study. "The economic facts have not changed over the six months since GAO issued its comprehensive study. We believe that an FCC study would further confirm that 'a la carte' pricing would be very harmful to ad-supported cable networks and consumers by reducing programming diversity and driving up the cost of cable and satellite television."

 

The NCTA is the trade group representing the largest cable companies, such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable. However, the American Cable Association, which represents smaller cable companies, endorses a la carte pricing.

 

If there's nothing wrong with the way things are going now, why are the cable giants opposed to a la carte plans, while the smaller companies are in favor of it?

 

And there are choices. Here in the Phoenix area, you can have Cox Cable, Qwest, Directv, or Dish Network. Not to mention the local broadcasts. That doesn't reek of a monopoly to me. Maybe in more rural areas of the country you wouldn't have four choices...but you would still have a choice between 2 satellite companies, and more than likely one cable company.

 

 

Well, if Phoenix has choices, then it probably isn't one of the regions I was referring to when I mentioned areas with pseudo-monopolies on cable. Here in the Omaha area, there's only Cox.

 

Also, for those mentioning DirecTV and Dish, satellite companies fall under this idea as well. No satellite service offers an "a la carte" plan, either.

 

Perhaps I'm incorrect here, but I think the metric that the FCC and those other studies uses is number of choices, not net cost. It is possible to have more choices without a decrease in cost.

 

 

Not sure what you mean, exactly, but I know the FCC study was done specifically to evaluate the cost differences to the consumer. That was the central topic in the discussion. Why would consumers want fewer channels if it cost more? :D Most regular folks assume it could be done for cheaper; Capitol Hill and the FCC were called in to find out.

 

See this CBSNews story on the FCC study.

 

"I am pleased that the commission has concluded that 'a la carte' offering could reduce consumers' cable bills by as much as 13 percent ," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who plans to introduce legislation next week to create and promote use of the system. "The report confirms what I have believed for years — if consumers are allowed to choose the channels their families view then their monthly cable bill will be less."

 

Say what you will about arbitrary government involvement, but if the study was faulty or if it drew a different conclusion, there would be no political reason for a prominent Senator to support it.

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Aren't FCC liscenses granted by the federal government? Don't municipalities contract out to cable providers to offer services?

 

There's a huge difference between the FCC selling the public's airwaves for private use and legislating the content offered and the charge for that content.

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Well, if Phoenix has choices, then it probably isn't one of the regions I was referring to when I mentioned areas with pseudo-monopolies on cable. Here in the Omaha area, there's only Cox.

 

Also, for those mentioning DirecTV and Dish, satellite companies fall under this idea as well. No satellite service offers an "a la carte" plan, either.itical reason for a prominent Senator to support it.

 

 

so what you're saying is...the, ahem, "monopolies" don't offer a la carte programming and neither do any of the major companies in direct competition with them? :D

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There's a huge difference between the FCC selling the public's airwaves for private use and legislating the content offered and the charge for that content.

 

 

Most governments have a say over utilities, how is cable any different?

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Cable companies are getting a bum rap in this thread (cautionary note - I work for one of them).

 

Cable companies couldn't go to a la carte right now even if they wanted to. It's the programmers that create alot of the pressures for packaging. Example - a couple years ago, ABC launched a new channel, ABC Family. What happened was that any cable company that was renewing its ESPN deal around that time was forced, as part of the ESPN renewal, to not only start carrying ABC Family, but to carry it on the basic tier (where they could get the most viewership and therefore the most advertising dollars). And since ESPN has an unbelievable amount of leverage, most if not all cable companies conceded that point as part of the renewal negotiations. Those that did not concede right away found out pretty quickly that this was a deal-buster from ESPN's point of view, and no cable company in this day and age is going to let ESPN go dark.

 

This kind of thing happens all the time. This is why large programmers like ESPN/ABC, Turner and Viacom can launch new channels far more easily than an independent programmer, because they can use the leverage from their exisitng must-have netwroks to force the distributors (cable and satellite) to carry whatever new channel they might be launching, and in alot of cases, they can force the new channel onto the basic tier, sometimes at the expense of a less well-heeled channel.

 

Aside from that, even for existing channels carriage on the basic tier is often a sticking point in carriage negotiations. That's why you're getting stuck with 78 channels that you'll never watch. A channel might charge considerably less to the cable company if they are carried on the basic tier, or more often, will refuse any deal at all if it does not include placement on the basic tier.

 

This is very true.

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so what you're saying is...the, ahem, "monopolies" don't offer a la carte programming and neither do any of the major companies in direct competition with them? :D

 

 

:D Huh?

 

I'm saying neither satellite nor cable companies offer a la carte programming plans. Why? I don't know, but I suspect it's because of the agreements between those companies and the networks involved. Somehow, both are making more money by including ABC Family and Lifetime into the basic cable package. I believe this merits some investigation.

 

I probably overstated the culpability of the cable giants at first (like when I said, "the big cable companies suck"). I've had some poor customer-service experiences with Cox and I hate that there isn't another cable company around here to compete with them. Still, they offer a service that I deem worth of its astronomical price; otherwise, I suppose I wouldn't pay for it. However, the concept behind "a la carte" cable seems to clearly favor the consumer -- even if it only saves me 10% every month.

 

Also, one thing that isn't getting enough attention in this discussion is the fact that what gave this idea its real "legs" is the notion that some people are paying for channels that they find objectionable. I don't know which channels those would be, specifically, but I believe that's kind of the trump card that "a la carte" proponents occasionally play.

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