Class Action Lawsuit Filed By People Who Want A La Carte TV

from the seems-like-a-long-shot dept

For many years, there's been a pretty big debate over whether or not cable and satellite TV providers should offer "a la carte" options, where subscribers could just pick and choose the channels they want to subscribe to. At a first pass, many people think this would be great -- believing that it would save them money because they wouldn't be paying for all those channels they get but don't watch. However, this is short sighted. Studies have actually shown that in most cases a la carte offerings would end up costing more.

There are a variety of reasons for this. First, the pay TV providers would need to revamp their systems to support this, including their marketing and customer service setup, which would almost definitely raise costs. Second, what the current bundles do is allow certain popular channels to subsidize other channels. When you switch to an a la carte system, many of those subsidies are lost, and it would likely drive up the prices for many channels, rather than the other way around. So, while some people think it sounds like a good idea, it probably would likely result in a higher cable bill for many people.

However, that won't stop the class action lawyers from getting in on the action. A new class action lawsuit has been filed against the major cable and satellite providers, claiming that it's a violation of antitrust law that they don't offer a la carte channel selection. You can certainly see why some people would want it -- but it's unclear why pay TV providers should be forced to offer it. Either way, with the pace of change, it won't be all that long before this doesn't matter anyway -- and the entire concept of the channel is dead. We're reaching a time when people will simply subscribe to shows, and no one will worry about channels any more.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 10:53pm

    You say it would cost more because "popular" shows subsidise "unpopular" ones.

    What happened to user pays? If you want to watch "unpopular" shows, and they cost more, why shouldn't you pay more? Why should I subsidise you to watch some crud I'm not interested in?

     

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    boomhauer (profile), Sep 20th, 2007 @ 10:56pm

    if i

    if i had ala carte, i would prolly have 3 channels. hmm maybe 2. hmm and i dont even like those... why do i watch tv?

     

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    Lowell, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 11:01pm

    First thing I'd lose is the 20+ hispanic channels I can't understand. However I would miss the bosom hosts!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 11:28pm

    I would have about 8 channels, local stations for news, and discovery channels. All the rest of the channels blow.

     

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    ECA (profile), Sep 21st, 2007 @ 12:05am

    Lets see...

    100 channels...
    I dont watch:
    sports
    Religion
    Spanish
    News
    Shopping channels

    Take those off and how many do you have? 10-20...MAX.
    and most people can tell you thay watch 10 or LESS channels.
    SO, why should I pay for an increase in ESPN?

    ABC CBS NBC FOX HISTORY DISCOVERY SCIFI CARTOON COMEDY and thats about it...
    Charge me $1 each and I wouldnt mind...By WHY am i paying $50 for 80+ channels I DONT WATCH.

    REASON:
    Corps will NOT install anything they dont need, and that includes the FUTURE..to a corp THERE ISNT a future, its ONLY now.
    they will install the CHEAPEST, most cost effective means to deliver what they have, and NOTHING more.
    Corps will only install something IF YOU pay for it...YOU NOT THEM. Even the Phone service they are creating, COST MONEY, even tho its VOIP, WHICH is FREE.

    Look at the oil piplines in Alaska, run by BP. they cut the maintenance on them and NOW they are Garbage...WHO is going to pay...YOU.

     

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    yogi, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 12:22am

    How naive!!

    So you are saying that the tv companies have the best interests of the consumer in their mind when they force upon us their bundle pricing?
    How can you of all people believe such a thing?

    Bundling enables them to obscure the real costs from the consumer. It makes shopping and comparing impossible.
    Basically we never what we are paying for or why, not to mention that it enables the tv companies to add or subtract channels at will.

     

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    j0k3r, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 12:30am

    Once would of thought

    Well the thing is, the world is at the verge of the digital age. The age where the consumer can choose what they want when we want it, its called the wonderful internet, soon we all will be able to watch, pause, skip, fast forward, rewind, all on one site... soon the world wont need Time Warner, or Direct TV, it will all be about Road runner, and Hughes Net, fighting to be your ISP...

    Those are only the thoughts of a very elivated person at 12:30... perhaps you think that way too.... www.tv-links.co.uk =)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 1:04am

    You missed reason #1 why ala-cart will be more expensive.
    The providers will make their profit, and won't stand for any less then they are making now.
    If forced to provide ala-carte, then they will make sure that the minimum charged then is the same as the minimum charged now.
    Look at power utilities and telephone companies. Phone companies can't sell long distance services, so they charge a fee for NOT using long distance.
    Power utilities promote power efficency, then raise the prices per kilowat when they actually sell less power.

    People wanted unbundled internet and cable. Ok, now the providers charge almost as much for a single service as they did for both.

     

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    ECA (profile), Sep 21st, 2007 @ 2:37am

    #6

    1, its illegal to charge for a NOT service...Look it up. they tried it in THIS state(idaho) and got SLAPPED.

    Efficientcy SUCKS..
    SAY you have a small town, and the heaters installed in the town are only 60% efficient.
    Someone figures they can save money, so goes and gets one that is 99.9 efficient. and will pay itself off in 2 years(shocking aint it, and YES it can be cheap)
    He starts saving 30% of his heating.
    After awhile, others see this, and decide to do the same.
    After about 20-30% of the town switches over, the company notices that they ARENT making the same amount of money.
    So, they raise the price to compensate..
    So those that DIDNT upgrade, are being charge MORE, and those that got better units, are STILL paying the same.

    The question comes down to WHO notices?
    Everyone in the Lower levels gets paid Hourly.
    Those that get a percentage of profits, and so forth, will GET LESS. the BOSS/OWNER/CEO/Board members and so on..

    I would love to see EVERY working person, getting the SAME wage. from Janitor to CEO...
    do you think that would lower COSTS in the USA?

     

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    Peet McKimmie (profile), Sep 21st, 2007 @ 2:58am

    Fixed overheads

    Many of the arguments in favour of this run along the lines of "It costs me $50 a month to get 100 channels, so that works out at $0.50 per channel - why not just let me pay $5 a month for the ten channels I actually watch?"

    But that's not how it works. It probably costs, say, $30 a month for the infrastructure to get the cable to you, box rental etc. along with a reasonable profit for the providers. (After all, if they didn't make a reasonable profit, why would they bother doing it?)

    So, for the sake of simplicity, lets assume for the moment that all channels cost the same to the provider. That would mean that when you were getting 100 channels they would be costing you 20 cents each after you removed the cost of getting them to you. Ten channels would thus cost you $2, plus overheads, or $32 a month instead of the $50 a month you pay for 100 channels. That's without any form of "channel subsidies".

    So, instead of apparently paying $0.50 per channel, it suddenly looks like you are being charged $3.20 per channel. Everybody gets up in arms and the class action lawsuits start.

    My suggestion: Every package should be bundled with a mandatory "Remedial economics channel". :-)

     

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    Jaylen Smith, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 3:20am

    While on the consumer side I would enjoy al la cart. Choosing the family of channels I had would be better then the 20 channels of terrible public access and 10 channels of ESPN. Economically I know what would be good for my minds wallet, my actual wallet would feel the pain of the individualized service.
    Companies don't like change much unless it's on their end in their best interest.

    Few consumers understand that.

     

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    ibeetle, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 4:13am

    I really do not mind channel bundling

    I used to be a strong proponent of a La Carte cable pricing. I wrote letters, made phone calls; I really did get involved.
    To base my argument for non-bundling I have talked extensively to high ranking employees of cable companies. If they don't think your a nut case many CEO's are quite approachable.
    Here is my conclusion. It is not the bundling, but the packaging that we hate.
    I have a two year old and recently decided to subscribe to the "Family Package" of our cable system. Here are some channels we do not get:
    Secondary Discovery Channels (Discovery Kids, Discovery Science, etc.)
    Secondary Disney Channels (Toon Disney, Disney Kids, etc.)
    National Geographic Channel(s)
    HIstory Channel
    These are just a few. However, we do get such child aproprate channels as:
    Monsters (a channel devoted entirely to monster movies)
    Kung Fu Channel
    and we now have access to Here! on Demand (a very "R rated" gay and lesbian channel; as well as the Playboy and Playgirl channels.

    If we want addional family channels we have to subscribe to an even higher tier.

    Bundling is not so bad if the cable companies would bundle appropriate channels. Family channels should not have access to channels that show R & X rated programing. Conversely, when one subscribes to HBO they should get HBO, and not Starz,, Encore, the Sundance film channel, the Independent Film Channel.

     

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    Tom Coseven, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 4:22am

    you have it backwards

    "...certain popular channels to subsidize other channels." Boy do you have it backwards. It's the unpopular shows that subsidize ESPN. Forcing everyone to pay for a bundle is designed to put more money in the Disney's pocket without the sports fan needing to pay $30 for ESPN.

     

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    For Real, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 4:26am

    First off, can I buy just the Society section of a newspaper? Or how about just the sports section? Or do I have to buy the entire newspaper??? So I don't see the problem with cable. I don't find it expensive and I have every channel they offer.

    Second, I don't get the parental BS. And yes I'm a parent. You can control what your child sees, it's called PARENTING! Shocking isn't it? Companies and the government, read for this...ARE NOT responsible for RAISING YOUR CHILD. YOU ARE! Wow! Increadible eh? You even have tools to lock out certain channels to help you.

    In short I have failed to grasp any angle in this.

     

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    Leo, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 4:35am

    Cool Idea

    In theory, it is a good idea... In practice, it would definately be more expensive for many.
    The first channel I would get rid off would be G4TechTV... what a piece of *beep* that is! I still long for the old TechTV days...
    Actually, I guess my ideal tv package would only have the following:
    History Channel
    Discovery Channel
    Cartoon Network
    Animal Planet
    FoxSports
    ESPN

     

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    Leo, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 4:45am

    Re:

    I see your point... it is true, I don't read the whole newspaper, and that is why I don't buy it! I read news online instead.

    In the parenting part, I am glad someone gets it! Instead of assuming responsability, many people are always pointing fingers. They are your kids... so take action.

     

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    Amethyst, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 4:58am

    Let's see...I don't watch 95% of the cable channels and the 5% of what I do watch, I only watch in the fall when they are producing new episodes. I would keep 4 channels.

    And I should have to pay for the other 96 channels I don't watch...why?

     

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    chris (profile), Sep 21st, 2007 @ 5:23am

    Cable? What's that?

    We bought a house a year and a half ago and have yet to subscribe to cable, mostly for cost reasons. NBC, ABC, and depending on what side of the house the TV is on, CBS is all we get. We've found that we sit down for dinner and act like a family without it. The TV shows we do watch, all of us watch. I know exactly what my daughter is watching. Whenever we go to someone else's house to house-sit and they cable, we've got our PS2 in tow. We've learned to live without cable because of the lack of "Return On Investment" for our payment. If cable only offered what I wanted, I'd save money not on just the channels, but on the batteries for the remote when I spend half the night surfing. Yes you can say that they will raise costs for just having a few channels, but wouldn't the massive amount of new subscribers off-set this?

     

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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Sep 21st, 2007 @ 5:29am

    Two Things

    1) My family didn't watch much of cable, so we simply got rid of it. A nice antenna on the roof, and we get more stations than needed without that nice monthly fee.

    2) Lawyers, attempting to ruin society, one lawsuit at a time.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 5:38am

    Frankly, if we compare what we have now, as far as TV viewing, to what was available in the not too distant past, it's no big deal to have to pay for this vast variety. What continues to boggle my mind is that what used to be - and probably still are considered to be - the major channels that keep insisting on scheduling their most popular shows opposite popular programs on the competitive networks, thinking we all have to choose and wow - let's all go by the Neilson Ratings to see who wins. Actually, with the ability to record something while you watch something else, this old fashioned rating system is...well...old fashioned and senseless. There are so many terrific channels to choose from now, A&E, Discovery, National Geo., BBC, etc., etc., that the few programs that are worth watching on the so-called major networks are few and far between. And everyone realizes that profits must be made, so bundling is the only thing that makes sense, as far as being the least cost prohibitive, in order to have the ability to channel surf and find new and fabulous things to watch. I appreciate the opportunity to discover new channels and new programs I've not been aware of before. And I'm not unhappy to pay for this.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 5:41am

    Re: you have it backwards

    What?! You can get a breakdown of your channel pricing and it is required to be sent once a year where I live. ESPN is between $3 and $4, and is the highest cost basic channel I have to pay for.

     

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    Whitey French, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 5:44am

    Where I live (northern Maine), satellite or antenna are my only options for receiving traditional broadcasting. With the antenna I get 2 channels, and I'm not paying for satellite because of the bundling and cost involved. My solution - Netflix and Internet feeds. I create my own programming to watch when I want, not depending on some programmer in California or New York to offer me choices. Also I am subjected to way fewer commercial advertisements (although that is certainly changing with the Internet feeds). It is cheaper than cable or satellite. I can get all the news and weather I want, local and national papers are available, and the information for the most part is fresh. I can read only the society page if I wish. Many television shows are now available on the Internet for free the day after broadcast on network TV. Channel loyalty and television programming lineups (Thursdays' must-see TV for example) are quickly becoming a thing of the past.
    As an aside to j0k3r (#7), Time Warner owns Roadrunner.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 5:47am

    Geeze Louise dudes - It's a voluntary service. If you don't like it don't get it.
    I only shop for a few things at Wal-Mart. I want to start a class action to lawsuit to not have to wal through all the other rows to get to the rows of product I'll actually buy there.

     

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    Gary Wallin, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 5:51am

    On the one hand, I pay my isp for access to the whole internet. Wouldn't it be cheaper to pay for using only those sites that I want? Suprised the Class Action leeches haven't taken on this percieved injustice. On the other hand, the bundled system used by Cable forces me to pay for Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. The coverage of latest OJ story convinced me that these channels were so banal that I decided to block them. Unfortunately, I still have to pay for them and contribute to their bottom line. The Class Action do-gooders might be on to something in this case. Don't expect my bills to go down, though. Replacing 'six of one' with a 'half dozen of another' won't get me to the promised land.

     

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    dazcon5, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 5:52am

    Kids

    I think you should be able to create your own bundles. You can choose a straight ala-carte line up and pay more, or CHOOSE to get a 10 or 20 channel bundle and create your own line up. The choice is the issue here and the media companies aren't going to give the consumers any control without a fight. I don't mind paying for content, but if I have to pay for the content I don't want to see any commercials.

     

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    RandomThoughts, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 5:56am

    100 channels...
    I dont watch:
    sports
    Religion
    Spanish
    News
    Shopping channels

    So now we know that you are a racist idiot poor nerd who is going to hell, what do you watch? Just kidding, its Friday :)

    Why not pay per show?

    If you think this type of pricing would lower costs, it wouldn't. What would be needed is either IPTV (which isn't there yet) or set top boxes.

    Another issue is that if this is brought in, what does it do to contracts that are currently in place. MLB and NFL pretty much try to force cable companies to have the games on basic cable. Do they just change those contracts?

    It is a fact that even though there are a bazillion channels out there, most people actually only watch 20 channels. If you pay per channel, a lot of those channels will just go away. Don't think your shopping network shows go away, they won't, they make money. You wouldn't see 50 food channels, 50 National Geographic channels. Choice would be reduced.

     

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    ECA (profile), Sep 21st, 2007 @ 6:26am

    #10

    Many, many channels are broadcast free, in many areas..
    And if they would just bundle those...
    THEY used to do that YEARS ago...$10 per month for the basics.
    Want sports? Add $10.
    Want history discovery and cartoons, ADD $10

    THEn you could have all the house holds wired and ready to go..

    ALSO, you must understand something...
    CABLE is restricted...They DONT WANT to setup lines in the country, only in cities and towns...
    After the lines and such are UP, it costs NOTHING except installation, WHICH if each house Already had Basic lines UP, wouldnt cost much.
    Like the Phone company Does NOW.. Insted of new wires they just hit a few switches, and you get the features.
    But cable dont want to ADD BETTER/Current tech.

     

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    ECA (profile), Sep 21st, 2007 @ 6:27am

    PS..

    It ISNT NEW tech, either...It was used over 20 years ago, by a group called CUBE(I think).

     

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    TheDock22, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 7:13am

    Dumb

    A la carte programming is flawed in logic which many people are not realizing. And suing for companies to provide it is absurd and will be thrown out in the courts. You can't sue for a company to offer a feature they don't already offer and you don't already pay for.

    Here is why the logic is flawed: If they offered a la carte programming, you would be paying a LOT more for cable. You wouldn't be able to pick just History, Discovery, ABC, CBS, etc. It would be like it is now for the movie channels ($22 for HBO, etc). So you would pay (obviously more for popular channels) $20 for CBS and it's subsidiary channels, $25 for Fox, etc. In the end you would spend WAY more on channels than if you just bought a bundled package.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 7:46am

    I've always wanted a la carte channels. I watch maybe ten channels with any regulatity anyway. I have time warner cable, and the following may be true for others, but I don't know. Out of over 200 channels, I only get maybe 50 that I would ever watch. The rest are spanish, mtv/vh1, xm style music channels, sports, and kids channels. However, the only way to get the few that I watch is to pay for the beefy packages. It sucks.

     

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    Its about money, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 8:04am

    i don't think that people understand one thing. It doesnt cost the cable company anyting (above operating costs) to actually give you all those (currently basic) channels. A la carte pricing is like buying a bag of skittles then giving back all but the red ones (cause who eats the other ones). You will pay the same for less , drop your shorts and let them fuck you all while screaming "Thank you sir may I have another"

     

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    Haywood, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 8:16am

    Re: #6

    "I would love to see EVERY working person, getting the SAME wage. from Janitor to CEO...
    do you think that would lower COSTS in the USA?"

    I believe it would, but there would be more people wanting to be janitors than CEOs or brain surgeons. Why would anyone educate themselves for a minimum of 20 years (school, college, grad/ medical school) when they could drop out and begin making top wage immediately?

     

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    Haywood, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 8:24am

    To me it isn't about the money

    I'd pay extra to not have; Sports, religion, Non English language programing in my bundle. I would like a la carte to create the bundle I'd actually use.

     

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    its about money, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 8:34am

    if it...

    ..was actually going to be that way it could work. but it obviously wont. What would wind up happening is that the channels that are the most popular among subscribers would go up in price . And who could blame them. I'd charge you more for the channels that you and everybody else want.Why? Cause I could. What are you going to do? Go to the other guy (if you even have other options) . And lets say a new show that you want to see is starting but its on a channel that was once basic and now you have to pay for it(you peobably wont). I'm sure that the networks would just love to see that happen.

     

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    its about money, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 8:49am

    also..

    If you are willing to pay more for less (Heywood) Then I have a great deal for you. For every 20 bucks you give me I will give you 5 bucks back.


    PS my last post has typos ( no police please )

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 9:00am

    A-La-Carte is offered on C-Band

    What this lawsuit fails to recognize is that some channels are still sold a-la-carte via C-Band. The remaining a-la-carte channels can be had via c-band packager NPS. NPS works with Motorolla’s access control center to act as a go between for the programmers (Time Warner, Scripps, Discovery Communications, etc.) and customers. Individual channels can be purchased a-la-carte, mini-packages centered around a programmers offerings, via pick 5, pick 6 or pick 7 channels and full packages.

    Maybe big cable and the small dish satellite companies need to take a lesson from their older C-Band packaging counterparts.

     

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    Karl, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 9:15am

    Just a note...

    I believe that 2004 report from the FCC saying A La Carte pricing would result in higher prices (cited in the first link) was contradicted by a later FCC report that suggested there could be some cost savings....

    http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-263741A1.pdf

     

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    leroy, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 9:22am

    bundling can be proven not to lower overall costs

    The argument that bundling keeps overall costs lower doesn't hold water. For over a decade prior to the emergence of Ku Band satellite TV, the large dish satellite TV industry survived as did less than popular channels, on a largely a-la-carte business model. Granted, cable TV did subsidize some of those channels, but the satellite re-sellers survived just fine. After all, what is it we are talking about, survival of the programmer or survival of the common carrier (the cable or satellite provider)? We should let free market forces determine who survives and who goes dark. The cable systems will survive in either business model.

     

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    Haywood, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 9:52am

    Re: also..

    well if having 5s instead of 20s made my life better (as perceived by me) we would have a deal, unfortunately not the case however. Not having to listen to Spanish, preachers, and sports announcers, would improve my life as would having fewer channels to surf to determine there is nothing on.

     

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    Danny, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 10:09am

    A "Basic" fee

    Another reason I don't think customers would come out cheaper with a la carte is that if providers were forced to offer a la carte they would not take it lying down. They would just pull an phone telco on people and charge a "basic" fee that you have to pay no matter how many or few channels you get. And they might even go as far as to increase that "basic" fee for going over a certain number of channels.

     

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    its about money, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 10:14am

    Re: Re: also..

    No one is making you watch them. And unless you surf old-school style ( clicking the remote channel by channel ) instead of just going to your menu and looking at the listings then you would never have to hear or see any of it. And last I checked you still see channels you don't subscribe to on your menu so you still have to deal with that.
    How about if the cable box you have let you set up your channels so that it only goes to the channels you watch and also only showed you those channels would you be happy then? because you seem to only watch those channels and never , ever anything else. ( which by the way I find really hard to believe) . Even I find myself watching channels I thought I would never have any use for once in a while.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 11:06am

    I think it's important to note that the cable companies are paid twice, effectively, because of advertising. Advertisers pay to have their commercials aired and then the consumer pays to have cable service. I wouldn't mind paying so much for cable if they cut commercials. Maybe they should have a channel that plays nothing but commercials and take them the hell off the others. You pay a certain amount for premium channels such as HBO and one of the benefits is no commercials. This is happening in the movie industry also. You pay a big sum of money to see a movie and then have to sit through commercials before you get to watch it.

    With a la carte some have said that they would charge more for the channels everyone wants. That would probably be true. However, competition would arise due to lesser channels competing, and making shows that people actually wanted to watch. Would you pay $70 for 200 channels, of which you only watch 20, or $70 for only those 20 with fewer comercials, and better programming? I would choose the latter.

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 11:06am

    now: basic cable $50, add-ons about 10+ per channel or group of channels.
    With Ala-carte: $50 for the first channel, $5 (or whatever) per channel after that. and get all the religious and shopping channels for free!! thats right, with one channel we will GIVE you all those channels which make US money, and that you don't want anyways!!!

     

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  44.  
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    its about money, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 11:23am

    # 44

    I can understand what you are saying but there is a twist. Ad dollars pay for shows to be produced. So unless the capitol earned from a la carte pricing is equal to or more than ad dollars you will still have ads. And also who is to say that they wont still have ads. The companies always want to advertise .They will find a way to do it.

     

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  45.  
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    man im bored, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 11:38am

    I meant # 42

     

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  46.  
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    TheDock22, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 12:10pm

    Re: # 44

    I can understand what you are saying but there is a twist. Ad dollars pay for shows to be produced. So unless the capitol earned from a la carte pricing is equal to or more than ad dollars you will still have ads.

    I agree. Beside I am not sure the cable company directly profits from advertisements. I mean, when you want to air a local commercial you have to call up the local ABC or FOX office, not the cable company. Maybe they get a percentage off of the ads, but definitely not the majority of the money.

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 12:58pm

    Re:

    Cable was originally commercial free, which was why it was subscription service. We as consumers let them get away with including more and more advertising when originally this was meant to be a commercial free medium. We originally paid for no ads, and now we are paying to watch them.

    FWIW, I have not had anything but OTA since end of 1999 and I don't miss it but the occasional game or the Discovery/Nat Geo stuff once in a while. I chose to pay for broadband back then when each were comparable @ $50/mo instead of sat TV.

    When and if affordable ala carte programming is available, I may buy a handful of channels OF MY CHOICE (excluding premium obviously) @ say basic service fee of $9.95 and $1.50-2.00 per channel.

    They could offer packages of X #of channels for $X that you get to choose (again, excluding premium). Sell them in 5, 10, 15, 20 channel packages with a price break per channel as you buy more channels and then move into full channel bundling like they do now for those with higher # of channels desired. No service fee once you go into the higher packages like we have now (or line item it out of the existing fee). Win-win situation. Cable gets more subscribers, fans of existing packages get to keep what they have, customers who want ala carte get what they want.

     

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  48.  
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    ECA (profile), Sep 21st, 2007 @ 1:29pm

    AND

    with ala carte,
    The cable company KNOWS what we are watching... AND not guessing.

     

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  49.  
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    John, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 2:16pm

    What if...

    Here's a What If scenario:

    What happens if enough people don't pay for a channel because they don't like it? Will the cable company stop offering it?

    Suppose I like a "niche" channel like Discovery Sciene. But suppose not many other people in area watch it. Will I stop getting it because it's not "cost efficient" for my cable provider to carry it?

    And what happens if the "market" starts to dictate the types of channels that a cable provider provides? Will cable companies in Florida offer 50 Spanish channels and nothing else because that's where their profit is?

     

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  50.  
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    Clueby4, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 2:39pm

    Feeble little sheep (PUSH vs PULL)

    Flap all you want, however I don't believe this astroturfing FUD about it being more expensive.

    And I argue it would be less expensive, since people might start to GROW A CLUE and realize that charging a subscription to a channel that has COMMERCIALS is not only unreasonable, it's also pretty scummy.

    Ala carte would also expose nasty practices that ESPN, Turner, etc. use to sell thier worthless channels.

    But wait, here's a though let's toss the stupid idea of pushing content and establish more methods of pulling content. On demand, Youtube, etc are a start, but that technology was available for some time and it still hasn't really taken hold.

    Why you ask, same reason the ala carte is FUDed by the astroturfers, content owners can exploit the push method much more easily the allowing customer choice.

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 3:22pm

    Re: Re: #6

    Very few CEO's went to med school or have "a minimum of 20 years" of education. Most of the top CEO positions seem to be occupied by those born into the right families.

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 3:30pm

    Monopolies!

    In most areas the local cable company has a government protected monopoly on the right to deliver cable service. I believe that if we would just get rid of these protections that an unrestricted market would respond to what the subscribers want.

     

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  53.  
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    CF, Sep 23rd, 2007 @ 9:39am

    $60 just to get the 2 channels I want?

    When will it end? Subscription fees have been rising faster than inflation for decades now. Where do you draw the line and finally cave in to a la carte + base fee? At $200/month? I just want two #@$ channels. Let the lifeless couch potatos pay more for their 50+ channels.

    Yes, subscribing to individual TV programs is the future -- but at the current $2/episode, or forced to watch commercials on a little PC app??!?

    All this has made illegal downloading so attractive. The video quality of the Divx files are far better than cable and satellite home feeds, and some files are in high definition.

     

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  54.  
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    Twinrova, Sep 24th, 2007 @ 3:57am

    I can't believe ala carte will increase prices

    The technology of cable companies has increased significantly over the 10+ years. At one point, cable theft was a huge loss for the industry. The solution: cable boxes. A cable subscriber must now have a box to receive a signal.

    If you haven't flipped through all your channels, then you're missing one very important detail: Channels you don't pay for are blocked.

    Think about this for a second. I don't see any feasible reason why a cable company would increase the price for ala carte programming when they can just as easily block channels we don't pay for.

    Now, I do see a possible increase in per-channel subscriptions which would indeed increase the overall cost of cable service. This increase would be done solely for the reasons of retaining revenue.

    Cable companies push ads and with those ads being dropped, the revenue must be made somewhere. If I had to guess, these ad revenues would appear:
    - In the cable menu listings. Not just small ads, but huge ones. Definitely to make you notice.
    - Increase in price for ala carte services. Why offer less than $1 per channel (when most aren't watched) when they can charge $5 per channel ala carte. The cell phone industry does this on a daily basis. Try getting a cell phone ala carte and compare phone bills.

    What really ticks me off is the availability of HD channels with cable. There are only a few, especially when new channels seem to pop up daily. As an HD subscriber, I feel as though I'm paying for analog channels I can't stand to watch.

    Sadly, this lawsuit won't do anything but destroy the industry if the case is won.

    Oh, and I do have to say I do believe the day of the "channel" is indeed dying. What I can't understand is why it's taking so long to implement. On Demand is gaining in popularity as well as DVRing shows. Now, if only the on demand lineup included more shows.

     

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  55.  
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    Ring Huggins, Oct 8th, 2007 @ 10:21am

    Cable/Sat TV lawsuit

    Well folks it's about time somebody stood up to these corporations. Their reasons for not providing Ala Carte seem very lame to me. I only watch about ten channels at best and the rest in my not so humble opinion is garbage. Ala Cart might improve the quauity of the offerings. While I am at it what about customers paying for all those "infomercials" that are now running all night long. It was not so long ago that dish TV was promoted as commercial free telivision! I wish the plaintifs good luck in this trial.

     

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  56.  
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    John, Nov 21st, 2007 @ 10:12pm

    As someone that sells satellite tv i can tell you that most people watch about the same channels.
    Most people only want about 15 or less.
    The Spanish Channels say you want us you must make us part of a package.
    It is not fair that everybody has to pay for what they never watch.
    If people were to pay for only wat they want sat tv could do with less satellites because what nobody wants would be gone.
    I say if a channel cannot pay for itself it is not needed and should not be on.
    Dish wanted to drop a channel nobody watches and because it is owned by CBS they had to keep it or lose other channels people want.

     

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  57.  
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    Re, Feb 16th, 2009 @ 9:40pm

    Re: Re: #6

    Because being a bossy controller who is in charge of bending everyone over backwards has more fun than a janitor...

     

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  58.  
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    Re, Feb 16th, 2009 @ 9:51pm

    Re: Re:

    He didn't say he lets his kids watch the x & r rated movies-he says he doesn't appreciate having to pay for the x & r rated channels when he buys a kidz channel bundle...

    As for all you economics buffs I ask: how much does it cost to provide all the crap channels we don't watch? Why produce them if we don't want them? For the few who do want them, why should the rest of us pay for that?

    That's more like selling a bag of m&m's with 9 out of 10 flavors most people don't want & making all the rest of us buy the whole assortment when only a few ppl want the other flavors...

    I'm so tired of Comcast jacking up their prices so much when everyone is dealing with financial problems. They are greedy predators & I'm here because I'm researching how to get out from under their grip-and I'm finding answers! Apparently the digital switch is going to make tons of channels available by rabbit ears! And good quality too! Between ears & Netflix (an example of what it REALLY costs to deliver media-unlimited streaming movies to your tv for as little as 8.99 month!)I am going to be done with being bent over the bedrails every time I want some nice mindless tube!

     

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  59.  
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    Ala Carte or No Cable for Me, Feb 21st, 2009 @ 10:22pm

    Re:

    Not necessarily true. It would depend on how many channels you chose.

    Phone companies can sell long distance. Also, they charge you the same fee for providing long distance that they charge you for not having long distance.

    I heard the same argument locally before the cable company offered a basic package. In addition, they said there weren't enough subscribers even though there are plenty of non-subscribers in town.

    As to the subsidizing, according to my local cable most of the price increases are for several major channels and not the minor ones.

     

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  60.  
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    Maybe, but it happens, Feb 21st, 2009 @ 10:24pm

    Re: #6

    I agree it should be illegal to charge for a non-service, but it does happen. It took a major lawsuit to fight the 900 block charge.

     

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  61.  
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    Reality, Feb 21st, 2009 @ 10:30pm

    Re: Fixed overheads

    It is not that simple. The more popular channels are the expensive ones. You are paying for the name, same as with computers and computer parts, and other namebrand things. A recent article showed how a major channel system blackmailed one of the cable companies into paying an outrageous amount of money to carry their channels.

    Generally speaking, cable boxes are a separate line item on the bill so that cost is not part of the infrastructure. Depending on your cable company, most of them have tons of "extra charges" which they often pawn off as being govt. fees. Some are govt. charges, but most are not.

     

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  62.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2009 @ 10:55pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Blame someone other than Comcast for the latest price increase.

    An interesting article not too long ago was how the Internet was making cable TV obsolete. I don't have cable and I can get most of the shows I want through Hulu, Surfthechannel, or similar free online websites. There are a handful of shows I can't get that way, but it is not worth $65+/month for them.

    http://www.vistanews.com/3479V8/081106-Pay-TV

     

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  63.  
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    Sounds good to me, Feb 21st, 2009 @ 10:57pm

    Re: Kids

    I agree 100% on all counts.

     

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  64.  
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    You already pay one, Feb 21st, 2009 @ 11:03pm

    Re: A "Basic" fee

    Most, and probably all, cable companies, you pay a basic fee. It might not be listed, but you pay it. Here, for cable the basic fee is 15/month.

     

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  65.  
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    You are right and I dont, Feb 21st, 2009 @ 11:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: also..

    I dont pay to watch them. I get more local channels that are not on the cable system. I can find 99% of what I want to watch online. I may have to wait a few days for some of the shows.

     

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  66.  
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    They already know, Feb 21st, 2009 @ 11:08pm

    Re: AND

    They already know. Their systems track what channels, what shows, etc. now so ala carte is not going to change that.

     

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  67.  
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    In show ads, Feb 21st, 2009 @ 11:12pm

    Re:

    You didn't mention the in-movie and TV show commercials. Product placement is their favorite term. See the Coke/Pepsi the camera focuses on, paid ad by Coke/Pepsi. Even on HBO, etc. the same thing.

     

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  68.  
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    Bob, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 1:29pm

    cutoff cable,directv,fios etc.

    I cut off my directv service over a year and a half ago I thought the service was to high for the channels I watched about 15 to 20 at best. Why am I paying for trash channels and locking them out, to me thats throwing money away. The Bell System Telephone Co. was broken up because it was a monopoly, what is this satellite, cable tv industry? If the sports,news and any other channels what to much the public should tell them to take a hike!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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