Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Bundling Bungled Edicts

The FCC made some ominous comments about how cable companies should be offering their product this week.

      Responding to calls from conservative groups for tighter standards for decency in broadcasting, the chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has raised the option of allowing pay television viewers to pick their own channels, setting up a potentially costly brawl with the cable and satellite industries.

      Chairman Kevin Martin offered the option in a speech to the Senate Commerce Committee on Telecommunications and Transportation, reversing a well-established FCC position that favored bundling channels as the most cost-effective option for consumers.

      The so-called à la carte programming option is a pay-per-channel plan in which consumers would pick the channels in their cable package. That approach could replace the basic and expanded bundles now offered by cable and satellite TV operators.

Let me start by saying that I’ve been hoping that someday cable companies would offer channels a-la-carte so I could get the stations I want without the threat of channel surfing through dozens of meaningless and crappy stations.

However I have a hard time believing that having the feds call the shots is going to be healthy for the cable industry.  I also don’t think it will solve all the conservative fears about decency in broadcasting.  After all, can’t you just switch the channel, or get technology to keep your kids from watching it?  Or not get cable!  It’s not like power you know, you don’t NEED it.

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