New Bill Pushes For A La Carte Cable TV

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Now here is bill I think we can all get behind.... à la carte cable TV. :cool:

Back in 2006, Sen. John McCain tried and failed to get Congress on board with a bit of legislation that pushed “a la carte” cable TV — programming that consumers could pick and choose instead of being forced to have 300 channels they don’t watch just to get the few they do. He’s not giving up the fight, it seems, as his office introduced a new bill to put the heat on pay TV providers to allow the a la carte option.
 

Monkey God

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This should never be considered for legislation. If cable companies want to dig their own grave, let them. Dont we have more important things to be worrying about?
 

hellokeith

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Channels will cost $5/mo.

Connection fee will be $2000. But they'll pro-rate it for you for $125/mo. STB rental fee will be $25/mo.
 

rat

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People who want to save money on their bill by removing channels will be disappointed to see that it'll cost $15/mo to keep ESPN but save them $0.01 to dump OWN and HSN.
 

Azhar

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I'm a democrat and not a McCain fan but this is one bill I can get behind 100%.

But wait for it - Comcast and Viacom's going to lobby hard (aka line McCain's pockets with cash) to get this bill thrown out.
 

kbrickley

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Government should just stay out of this ... if there is a market for ala carte then someone will offer it to steal customers from the others ... they should leave this alone ... as the market moves to online streaming we should see this option emerge ;)
 

Hop-Scotch

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This is for the companies, consumers, and market to figure out. As much as I want to be able to choose channels, I don't want the government involved, even if they are just trying to get the ball rolling.
 

HisSvt76

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If the masses vote with their wallets and don't subscribe to the services they will have to change. I watch over the air TV and buy just the few shows I like with season passes from digital services, amazon, Xbox video etc.
 

Goride

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Government should just stay out of this ... if there is a market for ala carte then someone will offer it to steal customers from the others ... they should leave this alone ... as the market moves to online streaming we should see this option emerge ;)



Cable companies were given government granted monopolies over geographic areas to promote laying down cable lines.

Thus, cable companies still have a monopoly over their areas. Very few areas, nation wide, have more than 1 cable tv option. (for instance FIOS or Uverse is not available everywhere, and not all places allow for satelite, etc.)

It is very much within the realm of government to limit or stop a cable tv conglamerate from absuing its monopoly power to force consumers to buy things they do not want. If you want 10 channels, you cannot buy just 10 channels, they make you pay for 200.

Furthermore, the channel content providers sell packages to the cable companies themselves. For instance, if a cable company wants to have AMC on their line up, AMC makes them buy other networks that they own, even if the cable company doesn't want to pay for it. Then the cable companies simply pass that on to us.

It is all about having a monopoly and leverage over people. Bills like this, if designed properly, can help stop this. Because of these monopolies and unfair leverages certain networks have, the market cannot correct itself.

There is a reason we have anti-competition and anti-monopoly laws - they inhibit the market to adjust.
 

Dekoth-E-

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I actually don't support this, and for the reasons mentioned in this thread about it won't work the way people hope. Mostly the fact that it is utterly pointless as long as Cable/Telco companies are allowed to maintain monopolies and anti-compete agreements. Outright outlaw their ability to control competition and the rest will quickly fix itself.
 

Azhar

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I find myself in disagreement with the last three poster: government regulation isn't always a bad thing. A blanket statement "government regulation is bad, government involvement is bad" is shortsighted. Pure capitalism is much worse than government regulated capitalism.

Voting with your wallet doesn't work when a company or a conglomerate is already making untold billions. You want out? Fuck off, go enjoy your antenna television. Oh wait, we digitalized that already and recently encrypted it. Sorry, what? You want to watch (ahem) public television? Feel free to sign up and pay $99 a month for the basic cable bundle.
 

Addy711

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Government should just stay out of this ... if there is a market for ala carte then someone will offer it to steal customers from the others ... they should leave this alone ... as the market moves to online streaming we should see this option emerge ;)

Reading the link provided, I get the impression Comcast, Direct TV etc. cannot offer it even if they want. They are forced to buy crap channels and content bundled with high demand content. So ala carte isn't even an option, this seems to be what the bill is addressing.

Plus it's got freedom in the name of the bill so it must be good!
 

Deinos

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I agree that this should be up to the market and businesses moving in to exploit that niche (à la carte pricing) if the niche exists. The only thing the government should be doing is making sure that current regulations and laws are being observed and that monopolistic behavior and anti-competitive practices are not being employed to prevent those new businesses from coming into the market.

I for one am voting with my wallet by not purchasing cable. I use Amazon Instant, Hulu Plus, and Netflix with over the air digital for my local networks. If they ever moved to à la carte, I would consider coming back to cable, but I find the price of cable exorbitant for the few channels I watch atm.
 

Azhar

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Ah, some of you are posting too fast :p By "last three posters" I meant posts 7, 8 and 9.
 

rudy

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Just get rid of cable all together.

The problem with Americans is they always think the government can solve the problems they create. The problem with cable is not alacart programming its the freaking monopoly. Allow competition and it will all get fixed. Don't try to force the monopoly to do something weird hoping they will make something better, it wont happen they will find a way around it. Remember when we were suppose to be able to buy our own cablecards, what happened? They ended up charging us like $10 / month to use our own cable card. holy shit people are so dense they never see it coming. In the end no one except niche user use them because its not any less expensive.
 

HisSvt76

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Ah, some of you are posting too fast :p By "last three posters" I meant posts 7, 8 and 9.

Curious, how the fuck was anything I posted to quick? Pretty sure I'm part of a large majority doing exactly what I do.

While sometimes it is good to get some government support I think there are far more important things to fix.
 

Azhar

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Curious, how the fuck was anything I posted to quick? Pretty sure I'm part of a large majority doing exactly what I do.

While sometimes it is good to get some government support I think there are far more important things to fix.

posts 10 and 11 were too quick not yours. :-P

And yes there's ALWAYS "more important things to fix" and if we only focus on these "important" things, nothing else is ever going to get done.
 

Skripka

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In the first first case McCain needs to find another cloud to yell at.

Just get rid of cable all together.

The problem with Americans is they always think the government can solve the problems they create. The problem with cable is not alacart programming its the freaking monopoly. Allow competition and it will all get fixed. Don't try to force the monopoly to do something weird hoping they will make something better, it wont happen they will find a way around it. Remember when we were suppose to be able to buy our own cablecards, what happened? They ended up charging us like $10 / month to use our own cable card. holy shit people are so dense they never see it coming. In the end no one except niche user use them because its not any less expensive.

Channel block pricing will always be there, if left to the providers own devices. Monopoly or not, it doesn't matter. Releasing the cable co monopolies to create competition would solve nothing in this. A la carte will only increase costs to the consumer, no matter what.
 

HisSvt76

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posts 10 and 11 were too quick not yours. :-P

And yes there's ALWAYS "more important things to fix" and if we only focus on these "important" things, nothing else is ever going to get done.

OK thanks. I think the government if they really want to do something need to look into the creators of the content and the bundle pushing they force on the providers then maybe the companies could offer a reasonably priced ala cart menu. Comcast in particular needs to stop over charging and offering discounts that end up not being a good deal their billing can be pure trickery.
 

Goride

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Reading the link provided, I get the impression Comcast, Direct TV etc. cannot offer it even if they want. They are forced to buy crap channels and content bundled with high demand content. So ala carte isn't even an option, this seems to be what the bill is addressing.

Plus it's got freedom in the name of the bill so it must be good!

^
This.


The networks have certain programs that people want. But most of what is on a particular channel is not watched much, so it is not worth much. But the network sells the channel as a whole. Going further, only some channels are worthwhile, while other channels do not have much ratings, so they are not worth much. Again, because no one would buy those lower performing channels, the networks package them in with the popular channels, and in reality, the popular shows/programs. Then they ONLY offer them in this package to the cable company, who much pay for it all, even though it does not care to offer certain things to its customers.

The networks do this, because they have a monopoly over the particular program. Having the exclusive rights to a particular program, and to profit on it is not a bad thing, by itself. But they use this leverage power to force the cable companies to buy shit they do not want. Back to the AMC issue I mentioned above, no one else can offer Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Walking Dead, etc. So they have a monopoly on this. But they do not just exploit this by charging for those programing. They force the cable companies to buy those programs, along with the whole AMC channel, and along with several other channels no one cares about. Otherwise, they get nothing.

So the cable company has to pass all this crap on to the consumer.

But even if the cable company did not have to buy it like this from the networks, the cable companies themselves have a monopoly over their geographic areas. The cable companies still exploit this and package things together and make you buy things you do not want simply because you have no other realistic option.

So the problem is two-fold. The networks are part of the problem, and so are the cable companies. But it all boils down to monopolies and leverages.


Also, people here seem to think that other companies/businesses can just march right in and offer an ala carte service "if there was a market for it." This is not the case. That is not how the media industry works. There are contracts set up between all these companies where often times networks (and others) are simply not allowed to sell their content to anyone else. Most cable companies have were granted monopolies over areas to lay down cable back in the day, and they do not have to allow anyone else to use them. There are several other issues as well. But the point is, there are many significant barriers to entry to this market area. Other companies/businesses cannot simply march in and fill a niche need. Due to all of the monopolies, contracts, leverages, etc., this market simply does not operate as a free market. From the very beginning it was not setup that way. There are too many barriers to entry, and not enough competitors, in this market for the market to correct itself.
 

Rizen

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I would honestly prefer they remove all the existing regulation so that the cable companies are forced to compete, rather than add more regulation on top of what we already have. If I was able to choose more than 2 options for cable in my area it might make the playing field more level.
 

Goride

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Oh and to be clear, I am not saying this bill is the magic answer to everything. In fact, I have not even read it yet.

I was just responding to what seemed to be the general opinion here, that nothing is wrong here, and if it actually did have problems, the market would self correct itself.

This industry/market was never setup as a free market. It does not operate as a free market. And free market economic principals do not apply because of it.

(I just did not want to come across as a huge supporter of this bill. I am just anti how this whole industry/market currently operates as a whole.)
 

Methadras

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This is why not everything can or should be legislated. Let the market determine where consumers want to go. Why is this so hard to fathom. Government is not your father or mother. We can look out for our own self-interests.
 

Life.exe

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TV free since 2007. Approximate savings, $2,160 with basic cable. Spending it on new and exciting experiences rather than sitting on my butt is a win in my book.
 

Skripka

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This is why not everything can or should be legislated. Let the market determine where consumers want to go. Why is this so hard to fathom. Government is not your father or mother. We can look out for our own self-interests.

So the all powerful market knew that all consumers wanted SimShitty5?

Companies look after their shareholders. They give not two shits about what their consumers actually want.
 

Goride

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This is why not everything can or should be legislated. Let the market determine where consumers want to go. Why is this so hard to fathom. Government is not your father or mother. We can look out for our own self-interests.


A purely free and unregulated market poses significant threats and dangers of its own as well.
 

rat

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Thus, cable companies still have a monopoly over their areas. Very few areas, nation wide, have more than 1 cable tv option. (for instance FIOS or Uverse is not available everywhere, and not all places allow for satelite, etc.)

Not true anymore. With the telecom deregulation, last mile rules are in effect. The fractured and exclusive service areas that we see now are the result of Tacit Collusion. Eg: I won't enter your market if you won't enter mine.
 

Jagger100

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Well there's two parts to your cable bill.

The service of bringing cable to your house.
The content that arrives on that service.

The thing about the service portion, which is the cost of bring the wire to your house, maintaining it, and pushing the cable signal, its the same whether you watch 9 hours of cable a month or 90 hrs of cable a month. So a la carte pricing is unfair wrt to the service portion.

The content portion is the complete opposite. There are channels you never use that you are paying a premium for content. This should be billed a la carte.
 

Skripka

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Get rid of commercials as well, then we'll see if TV is worth turning back on.

You do realize that the major reason TV channels bother existing these days is to serve advertisements....You seem to be under the mistaken impression that TV channels and cable companies exist to entertain you first.
 

Warrior

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They might use this as a chance to get a consumers who don't want/have cable TV (like myself) because of the fact of 300 channels for 2 they watch. They can finally charge an arm and a leg to these people too, and make them feel like they are getting what they want. Nickel and Dime the market they don't have, but need.
 

Warrior

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But, i guess I'm all for it... But honestly I think it's a waste of these polutition's time, time = money, and they are wasteing it on BS like this.
 

[Tripod]MajorPayne

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I think this is a "be careful what you wish for" situation.

Most TV providers negotiate with "networks" who sell a host of channels. Channels like Discovery and the Science channel are produced by the same network, so Comcast (for example) contracts for all of Discovery's channel lineup and then serves it to customers. If you want Discovery channel, you're going to have to pay Comcast for the rest of the network channels, because Comcast has to pay Discovery for them.

Same with ESPN's family of channels and so on. You'll end up paying more for the few channels you want because the "negotiate for the block" strategy will continue, meaning Comcast is still paying Discovery and ESPN for all the channels and getting less of a return on it.

You might save $0.50/mo for dropping the crappy channels, but the cost for Discovery, ESPN, and ESPN2 are each going up a dollar to make up for all the people dropping the associated network's channels.

I definitely agree that we can do better at parceling out television channels and getting people to pay for the programming they want and not for the fluff, but I don't think "forcing" a la carte is going to work out for the consumer in the end. They'll end up paying the same amount of money for fewer channels (even if the dropped channels were never used anyway) or paying a slight premium (on a channel volume basis) just to get the 10 channels they want.

I envision it being kind of like the Family Share plans at the wireless providers. They sound good, but once you get right down to it, you're paying exactly the same or a little bit more to get that shared 6 GB/mo pool of data versus every smartphone having 2 GB per line. The service is "packaged" differently but you're getting the same thing for about the same price.
 

az_max

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Any venue that’s paid for in any part by taxpayer money would have to repeal blackout restrictions. That includes most professional stadiums.

But the blackout restriction is from the League (NBA,NFL,CFL,NHL) who is putting on the event, not the stadium or arena who has no broadcast rights or equipment.
 

Youn

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Yep. 9 months of no television here. I'm free! :cool:

Going on 12 years here... saved... oh, I dunno... enough to buy a house in cash :p

Weird bill at first glance. I thought republicans tend to want less regulation in free markets? It would makes sense if mccain is buddy-buddy with some cable lobbyists and he feels a threat from internet TV so he is trying to find a way to keep people "on his side". Also, this would probably help his re-election campaign. Eh, who the hell knows the reason behind bills these days, I just somehow doubt he went home-to-home and asked people "what do you want?" and they said "no more bundled cable tv", lol...

I guess I don't care all that much, but I'd rather see less regulation when it comes to entertainment and information technology in general. Regulation is good when it protects, of course... but what is this really protecting us from?
 

az_max

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One thing I've been saying the past 10+ years:

You could boil down the new, original content of the 150 channels I receive to 50 channels. There's so much repeat in the Discovery/TLC block of channels it's ridiculous. now with DVRs of all sort, it's not a problem to record a show on 2am on a tuesday to watch whenever you want.

So the Viacoms and Discoverys of the world need to condense their programming into a 24hr schedule and drop the 5 other channels of repeats they are forcing cable companies to buy.

OR
They could partner with the cable companies to put 90% of their programming on On-Demand, and drop the channel slots all together.
 

DarkStar_WNY

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While something like this looks good on paper it practice it a la carte pricing wont likely result in much, if any, of a cost savings.

Sad but true.
 

Ski

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I bet you guys the video card inside my laptop that this bill won't even make it past the floor...
 
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