Arguments for à la Carte

5:25 PM -- Did you know the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is still accepting comments on Docket 04-207? The document poses the question: Should cable and satellite TV providers be required to offer programming to consumers on an à la carte or themed-tier basis?

The comments period ended in 2004, but the gate is still open and the public is still commenting. So far this month, the public has given the FCC quite a lot to think about regarding the issue of à la carte programming. Here's a sample for your consideration:

    * Choosing what channels we pay for can give us "the wonderful opportunity to have television programs in languages other than English and this could make us better citizens of the world. This could also help American children learn languages."

    * "I am KING of the United States I am EMPEROR of the United States I am SUPREME AUTHORITY who becomes SUPREME JUDGE which means Chief JUSTICE of the United States and Head of JUDGES OF AMERICA, and off course, life time president or mean in French President Avis."

    * "We have had our channels terminated by Time Warner Cable twice, lately. They replace them with stations that are useless to us. They do this ON YOUR orders. Why do you do this?"

    * "In a state of emergency economy it would provide with great options for consumers who are unable to afford cable. It would allow families to purchase family friendly program at their will and pick and choose which."

After considering the above, I've no doubt the FCC is better prepared to serve the public's interest and -- who knows? -- maybe help some American children (or adults) learn languages.

— Phil Harvey, EMPEROR-in-Chief, Light Reading

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 3:58:23 PM
re: Arguments for à la Carte


Do you really think that Comcast or Verizon or Cox or AT&T or Time-Warner really wants to have to send ESPN7?  They do it because otherwise they can not purchase ESPN.  I am not sure how this is going to help anyone as there is an assumption that may not be true.  The assumption is that you can pay:

ESPN_ala_carte = Cable Bill/Number_of_channels.

It may be that the price a lot bigger than that.  Then we will have done nothing very useful.




DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 3:58:23 PM
re: Arguments for à la Carte

I agree. Media company consolidation has made a la carte almost a non-issue.

Why don't you file a comment on the FCC's site?


jayja 12/5/2012 | 3:58:22 PM
re: Arguments for à la Carte

Of course, as the whole "NFL Network" spat with the MSO's has shown, Comcast, Time-Warner et al fully support "a la carte" when it suits them.

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 3:58:21 PM
re: Arguments for à la Carte


You mean when Comcast refuses to pay $X per customer for a channel?  How is that a la carte?



jayja 12/5/2012 | 3:58:20 PM
re: Arguments for à la Carte

From the customer stand-point, a la carte.  NFL Network does not come in a standard cable package, the customer can select it and pay a premium if they so choose.  I think this is perfectly legitimite for Comcast to do, but it is certainly a la carte.

By the way, the solution to this problem is to do what DirectTV does, and include it in a premium package, i.e., make NFL Sunday Ticket available to Comcast, Time-Warner, Verizon.  NFL needs to break the exclusive contract with DirectTV to do so, but it won't be the first contract they've broken.  They have an army of lawyers there (From Goodell on down) - that's what they're there for.

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 3:58:19 PM
re: Arguments for à la Carte



The issue is not things like the NFL network, where they basically have 1 channel.  It is things like Disney.  Let me just remind you that Disney owns beyond the Disney content both ABC and ESPN.  They mandate that cable take packages of their content (they do it to sattelite and Telco TV as well).

So, the problem is let us say a customer just wants ESPN as the only Disney content they want.  They are still going to have to cover the cost of the ENTIRE Disney package.  You will find all the major content owners have such deals in place.

There is plenty of a la carte packaging at that the specialized content level (as Sunday Ticket and the NFL network would qualify for).  But imagine you are a say Cardinals fan and want Sunday ticket JUST for Cardinal games.  Guess what - you are paying full boat for Sunday ticket.  Why?  Because the NFL says so.



jayja 12/5/2012 | 3:58:19 PM
re: Arguments for à la Carte


Understood & agreed.  I especially like your original comment:

"ESPN_ala_carte = Cable Bill/Number_of_channels."

Bottom line:  Cable TV a la carte is a red herring.  Subscriber who thinks he can sign up for the broadcast networks plus CNN, ESPN and MLB channel for $15/month will be disappointed.


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