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"a la carte" Cable


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

 

Cable isn't a utility. Cable isn't a necessity. Cable has competition. The fact that cable doesn't give you just Lifetime, Oxygen, and QVC for $6/month does not mean the government should get involved in forcing companies to offer that to you.

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:D Huh?

 

Az was pointing out that cable companies aren't really monopolies when the two satellite providers are available everywhere in the US.

 

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.

 

Why does this merit investigation? Agreements about offerings and pricing between suppliers and their customers aren't illegal. That's why Sony can make everyone price the PlayStation the same, no matter where it's bought.

 

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.

 

The price for TV and the packages offer suck so much because of the bolded part here. From the things I've heard about Charter here, I don't think your experiences with Cox are unique by any stretch. And I agree with you that having the option of getting a reduced bill just by giving up channels one isn't interested in would be great for the consumer. However, I just don't see how this issues rises to the level of importance that means the governement should get involved and dictate offerings.

 

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.

 

If people find a channel objectionable, they should just not watch it. Or program their cable/sat box to skip over it. Or not buy the package. It's really not a big deal, and not a good excuse to extend the governement even more than it is.

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Somehow, both are making more money by including ABC Family and Lifetime into the basic cable package.

 

Can you possibly support this statement?

 

I work for Cablevision, I believe we are the sixth or seventh largest cable company in the US. Our founder and chairman, Charles Dolan (not the guy who runs the Knicks and Rangers, that's his son) has long been an outspoken proponent of a la carte, and has testified as such to Congress and to the FCC on more than one occasion. As I noted in my previous post, though, our hands are pretty much tied on this one, because the programming agreements preclude us from going that route, and industry convention, at least for now, prevents us from addressing this in future carriage renewal negotiations.

 

Those in the New York City area will probably recall the long-running disagreement between Cablevision and the YES network, which is the Yankees' proprietary sports network. YES insisted upon being included in the basic tier, and Cablevision resisted. The PR line from Cablevision's standpoint was that we didn't want to force this network onto consumers who didn't want it, because it would force us to increase prices for the basic tier, which impact all of our subscribers, Yankee fan or not (FYI, a regional sports network typically costs the distributor north of $2 per sub per month, no distributor can take on an incremental cost of that magnitude without passing it on to the subscriber). I'm not trying to make my company out to be selfless service providers who act only in the public interest here, I'm not that naive. But it does point out the difficulty in going to an a la carte business model - it can only be done if both the programmers and the distributors are on board, and I don't think the programmers will ever get on board, short of government regulation. And I also agree with those who argue that government intervention would be inappropriate in this instance.

 

And by the way, YES is now part of Cablevision's basic tier service offering. We lost on that point, and rates did increase accordingly.

Edited by Easy n Dirty
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From today's news:

 

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) lost one and won one during a debate on telecom reform before the Senate Commerce Committee today. With the first, McCain's a la carte amendment failed on a 20-2 vote. Nonetheless, McCain and other senators warned that program choice for consumers could eventually become a reality with or without Congressional intervention. As for the other amendment, McCain's push for low-power FM stations passed the committee on a 14-11 vote despite stiff opposition from broadcasters.

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From today's news:

 

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) lost one and won one during a debate on telecom reform before the Senate Commerce Committee today. With the first, McCain's a la carte amendment failed on a 20-2 vote. Nonetheless, McCain and other senators warned that program choice for consumers could eventually become a reality with or without Congressional intervention. As for the other amendment, McCain's push for low-power FM stations passed the committee on a 14-11 vote despite stiff opposition from broadcasters.

 

Well, they got that one right.

 

And the a la carte programming may become a reality without Congressional intervention, but it would be market driven...not from Big Brother.

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