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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Chairman Martin's A La Carte Crusade Exposed
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Well, the Commerce Committee's Investigative Report is out and - no surprise - it is revealed that Chairman Martin's "Further Report" on mandatory cable a la carte pricing was cooked-up to reach a predetermined conclusion.

Indeed, when the staff author assigned to write the "Further Report" informed the Chairman's office that the new report would conclude, as the original report had, that mandatory a la carte would likely raise consumer cable prices and reduce programming choices, he was told in no uncertain terms that the "conclusion of the report is supposed to be that a la carte could be cheaper for consumers." In case that was not clear enough, the author was told "the report cannot conclude that a la carte would likely raise most cable bills, with fewer channels delivered."

This whole episode would be stunning from a procedural perspective if it were not so sad. Chairman Martin has been waging a four-year-long war on the cable industry in an attempt to compel cable operators to sell services on an a la carte basis. The whole time, we now learn, he knew that his own staff agreed that mandatory a la carte pricing would increase, rather than decrease, cable prices for most consumers and reduce programming choice and diversity. They were ordered, however, by the Chairman's office, to toe the line or shut up. There can be no more definitive indictment of mandatory cable a la carte.

Whatever the Chairman's motivation for his war on cable, he can no longer hide behind the façade that he is trying to protect consumers.

posted by W. Kenneth Ferree @ 12:30 PM | A La Carte , Cable , The FCC

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