Thursday, March 25, 2004 - The Progress & Freedom Foundation Blog

Mandated A La Carte Nonsense

Unfortunately, Senator McCain's Senate Commerce Committee is providing a forum for Consumers Union to continue its decades long harangue about what it calls "escalating cable rates." CU is under the mistaken impression that cable has some sort of monopoly on American eyeballs. Forget about satellite TV, the video streaming Internet, DVDs, digital over-the-air broadcasters, and so on. In CU's world, cable faces no threat of straying eyeballs from these competitors.

In the aftermath of failed cable rate regulation for several years in the 90s, CU's current burgaboo is to have the FCC force cable operators make available their programming on an a la carte basis so consumers could pick only those channels they want to pay for. Wow! Put aside for a moment the fundamental point that in a competitive marketplace, providers will offer consumers the services they want in packages (or no packages) of the sizes and shapes they demand. Just close your eyes for a moment and imagine the proceeding at the FCC in which the "expert" agency will determine which channels are mandated to go in which packages at which prices based on what theory. And the ensuing, never-ending proceedings to change the package or the pricing mandates. It's downright scary. (Okay, you can open your eyes now.)

If viewers think they are paying too much for cable or satellite programming, or get tired of watching DVD's or browsing the Net, can't they just choose to rely on "free" TV? There they can watch Average Joe VI, The Bachelor V, The Littlest Groom III, and, oh yes, Temptation Island IX, where four couples go to an island where there are 25 single guys and girls and....well you know........

posted by Randolph May @ 10:29 AM | General