Monday, December 12, 2005

Cable TV providers, make your choice: "a la carte" or censorship

In what is in this author's view a sensible move, today the president of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association announced (also, NY Times, watch the ad first) that at least six cable companies will begin offering a "family package" of cable channels to subscribers.

With noise from lawmakers about imposing federal "decency" standards on cable television, cable providers had to do something and this is a start in the right direction. The cable providers don't want an "a la carte" system because they claim they will lose money.


I can see their point only in a situation where someone wants only 2 or 3 channels at $5 per month and still wants free installation, a cable box and DVR. Other than that, cable providers must start catering to their audiences. There are enough interest groups and corresponding channels out there that even if the channels are split up and subscribed to by those who are interested, respectively, the money will still make it to the cable providers.

Plus, a pure "a la carte" system is not necessarily the only solution. One is to offer many "variety packs" like one for families, one for sports nuts, nature nuts, government nuts, news nuts, music nuts, comedy nuts, etc. And I mean "nuts" in the most positive sense, of course.

Another is to offer a tiered option where subscribers can choose up to 15 channels at the first tier, 30 at the second tier, and so on. Any channels they want up to the maximum for that tier. Or the "family pack" plus however many are left in the selected tier. Premium movie channels would still be an extra charge on top of any regular basic channels, the same as it is now.

If the choice is between changing your business model and submitting to federal government oversight, to this author the choice is clear: the old ways be damned, change the system and let come what may! At least you will have some degree of control over the form of the change.

By the way, attention all parents, you still have to pay attention and monitor what your children watch no matter what the government or your cable provider does. Not only does doing so allow you to control what your children see at home, it shows your children that you take an interest in them, that you care. Do not leave the caring of your children up to bureaucrats and corporate executives, things will turn out badly.

1 comment:

Eric said...

It's laughable that my DirecTV subscription exclaims, "Over 350 Channels!!!" Most of these channels are unwatchable or downright unavailable. I watch maybe 20 of the channels at the most. It would be nice to have some other way...