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MPAA Comes Out Against Cable a la Carte on Wholesale Level

Sep 10, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The movie industry today warned the Federal Communications Commission about acting to implement a la carte pricing of cable TV channels even at the wholesale level.
In a filing today, the Motion Picture Association of America urged the FCC to reject consumer groups’ request to let cable providers pick and choose channels one by one. It suggested Congress didn’t give the FCC the power to regulate wholesale pricing and such regulation would violate the First Amendment.
While much of the attention up to now on a la carte pricing of cable channels has been aimed at giving the choice to consumers, there have been suggestions that another way to deal with cable price increases is to give system operators more flexibility in picking channels by limiting tying or bundling arrangements. A la carte wholesale would allow cable providers to get channels they want without having to take a bundle that includes channels they don’t want.
In July, consumer groups Public Knowledge, Consumers Union, Free Press and the Media Access Project, a public-interest law firm, urged the FCC to move forward.
“By tying popular programming with less popular programming, programmers use their leverage to dominate bandwidth and channel position … as a condition to carry very popular programming,” the groups said.
Since then, networks have opposed any action by the FCC.
Today’s letter from the MPAA calls suggestions that the FCC has authority to act a “stretch.”
“There is no basis in the legislative history [of the FCC act] or in commission precedent to support commission adoption of a wholesale a la carte mandate or similar restrictions,” it says.

35 Comments

  1. By what stretch of the imagination does a decision to purchase access to a network I want to LISTEN to violate a First Amendment right of another network to say what they want? Someone in the MPAA is grossly delusional, and I would have serious doubts about the intelligence of any individual that even remotely thinks that’s a valid argument.

  2. Well, of course the MPAA will oppose any form of a la carte, whether at the wholesale or retail level. But it has nothing to do with freedom of speech, and everything to do with maximizing the licensing fees that they receive from cable networks airing movies and off-network TV series. A la carte would upset the cable industry’s business models and might reduce those licensing fees.
    That’s what has the MPAA concerned.

  3. MPAA regulates motion pictures… (MPAA = Motion Picture Association of America). They have nothing to do with off-network television sales.
    AMPTP handles television production (AMPTP = Alliance of Motion Pictures (TV Movies) and Television Producers).
    MPAA has a very weak position in this challenge as they only hold sway over Pay Channels like HBO and Pay per View chanels on the various cable and satellite outlets.

  4. If I could choose, my cable lineup would consist of about 10 channels! The rest is all dreck.

  5. “MPAA regulates motion pictures… (MPAA = Motion Picture Association of America). They have nothing to do with off-network television sales.
    AMPTP handles television production (AMPTP = Alliance of Motion Pictures (TV Movies) and Television Producers).”
    Get real — it’s just different branches of the same companies, since the major movie studios are also the major producer of television programming, and vice versa.

  6. Until we get a la Carte programming, it’s basic cable for my family. The extra money we would spend to get the good HD channels is being spent on movies and television series DVDs.

  7. I have been writing the cable company for years requesting an a la carte option. There’s so much trash on tv. We’re sick of it! Why are MTV videos (Brittany Spears and Usher) being featured on Nickelodeon and during RUGRATS of all shows?? COMPLETELY INAPPROPRIATE! Our home has been cable-free for the last 3 1/2 years (yes, that’s right – just rabbit ears for us) and we don’t miss it all. Unfortunately, even without cable there is no escape from the trash, as directors, writers and producers are obviously out of ideas as they resort to the sexual objectification of women – good shows are few and far between. We purchase dvds. I say put the power in the hands of the consumer. If the consumer wants the trash they can have it, but if they don’t they shouldn’t have to pay for it. I do miss the major news networks but I will not purchase another cable package unless I am able to choose the channels I WANT.

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