FCC Report Argues Against A la Carte Cable

Nov 18, 2004  •  Post A Comment

A Federal Communications Commission report that was scheduled to be forwarded to Congress on Thursday argues against a la carte pricing on cable TV systems, agency sources said.

Watchdog group representatives have argued that consumers would be able to slash cable bills if they were able to select and pay for only the cable programming that they really want under an a la carte pricing scheme, instead of being forced to subsidize all of the networks that operators currently require them to purchase in basic tiers. But FCC sources said the agency report, which is supposed to be publicly released Friday morning, claims that a la carte would actually end up costing consumers more.

Cable programmers oppose a la carte, fearing it would slash their audiences, undermine industry advertising revenues and even put fringe networks out of business.

“Though well-intentioned, the fact is that a la carte would threaten the very existence of religious broadcasting and the vital ministry conducted over the television airwaves,” Jerry Falwell, president of “Old Time Gospel Hour,” said in a statement.

In a separate report released Thursday, the watchdog Parents Television Council insisted that a la carte was needed to enable parents to effectively boycott what they may regard as off-color programming that is regularly offered on the standard channels on cable’s basic tiers. “There is something terribly and fundamentally wrong with requiring consumers to pay for a product they don’t want and may even find offensive in order to get something they do want,” PTC President L. Brent Bozell said.