Consumers Laud FCC Cable decision

Bye-bye bundles, hello ala carte? The Federal Communications Commission has reversed an earlier study and now suggests that consumers would benefit if cable operators sold channels individually, reports TV The article said Sen. John McCain will introduce legislation “that would entice all providers of television services to offer an a la carte option in addition to a package of channels.”

TV Week said the FCC thinks “subscribers could get as many as 20 channels without an increase in their monthly bills” under ala carte arrangements. Consumers Union cheered the FCC decision saying, “Consumers could be one step closer to having real cable channel choice and lower cable prices.”

But the National Cable Television Association bemoaned the change arguing that ala carte would “result in higher prices, less choice and less programming diversity.”

The FCC has posted a press release and statement by current FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, who ordered the review of the negative ala carte study done by his predecessor, Michael Powell.

CNet has also covered the issue in the past and the decision announced this week.

I noted this development via Paid Content, which framed the issue thus:

“One of the most persistent arguments against a la carte is the effect it could have on small and emerging networks. The FCC’s response to that criticism: ‘A la carte could make it easier for programming networks valued by a minority of viewers to enter the marketplace. … If consumers were able to express their interests through subscriptions, advertisers and MVPDs might find it easier to judge the value of smaller networks.’
Or, as we’ve already seen with TRIO, they could disappear from the cable/satellite multichannel universe altogether for viewing only by those with broadband access.”

Tom Abate
‘Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media