Why Mandate A La Carte Cable When It's Happening Online Already?

from the just-let-it-go dept

We’ve been among those who think that the government shouldn’t be forcing cable providers to offer a la carte channels. While people always insist that if they got a la carte cable, it would be cheaper, the facts are quite different. The economics of providing a la carte through existing systems would greatly increase overhead, and make it difficult to make things work. Most people would end up paying the same or more — but for fewer channels. Those who are complaining might be better off recognizing that when they pay for cable they’re effectively just paying for what they want — and the other channels are freebies.

Or, they can just realize that a la carte TV is coming without the need for government interference. Adam Thierer notes that there’s a growing movement of folks realizing that you can get an awful lot of television programming (legally) online these days. It’s reaching the point where we’re finally moving towards a world that we predicted years ago that shows are independent of channels or TV providers, and you can just get them directly online. That’s already leading some people to ditch TV service entirely, knowing they can get plenty of shows they want online — and all of this is happening without the government getting involved at all. So, can anyone explain why it still makes sense for the government to get involved here?

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Comments on “Why Mandate A La Carte Cable When It's Happening Online Already?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

A La Carte

as somebody who works for a cable company, i can tell you that this is true. A La Carte programing would cost the consumer more.

technology required to make it happen is costly…. and.. not very… appealing (visually).

the technology does exist to make it appealing. however, it requires cable boxes, or converters. the ability to provide al la carte via cable boxes and traps that work with them, is easier hide within the premise, (as apposed to mile long of devices sitting behind the consumers tv) the catch 22 however, is that normally, those who want a la carte, do not want a cable box.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: A La Carte

Thats a crock… A complete and udder crock. They already do a la carte.
There is nothing that needs to be done on a cable providers systems. They already determine what channels are available the consumer. On demand shows that it it’s already there. It would not cost any additional money to shut all the channels off and allow the consumer to determine what channels they want available on their cable box. As the cable companies, Comcast in this area, already do that.

The problem is they cant charge over board prices when you only have 10-15 channels enabled on your cable box.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: A La Carte

Utter crock, not “udder” crock. An udder is part of a cow, the part you squeeze to get the milk to come out.

And you are 100%, completely, and udderly wrong about a la carte provisioning. It will require more equipment, and that cost will be passed on the the consumer — you. You seem to lack any understanding of how cable works, much less economics.

PixelPusher220 says:

Re: Re: Re:2 A La Carte

Difficult? well that’s debatable…Cable Co’s aren’t exactly known for their technical prowess. But conceptually no, it’s not difficult.

Expensive? It *will* be more expensive for anything other than the massively popular content (i.e. professional wrestling, UFC, etc…) But the cost for PBS and other less watched networks would definitely go up a bunch.

It’s not as simple as choosing only 10 of 200 channels and expecting your monthly rate to drop comparatively. You’d likely see a comparable price and end up with fewer channels received.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: A La Carte

I don’t by that. My cable company just shut of 50 channels when we changed service without having to change boxes etc. I’ve been told it’s more of a billing issue. Cable companies make money by bundling channels and services. If users decided hey I don’t want all of the home shopping channels etc. they couldn’t afford to carry them at all. That might be a good thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Well fortunately for the consumer the day of cable and satellite tv holding the consumer hostage is ending. More and more sites like hulu.com are springing up which are already changing the way people watch TV.

The advantage is I am only paying for my internet access to watch pretty much all the TV shows I watch, on demand. The hulu commercials are very short and there is only 2-4 commercials that play during an entire episode and never more than 1 in a row.

If you don’t have a PC connected to your main Television you can also use a product like PlayOn from http://www.themediamall.com to stream various content like hulu.com, netflix, espn.com, etc… to your Xbox 360 or PS3 from a PC connected to your home network.

William says:


I’ve never tried Hulu but you can also watch all the really good shows on the network websites. If you like House go to FOX.com if you like Supernatural go to the CW website. Plus you can save a lot of time because you can watch all your favorite shows all at once or when you have some free time instead of vegging out in front of the TV all the time waiting for this or that show to start. And the video quality is really good, some sites even do high def. The only downside is that shows are usually about a week behind the TV broadcast.

The only TV shows I pay to watch come in DVD box sets. What really gets me mad is because of the writer strike last year you get half as many episodes for the same price if you buy last years seasons. I’ve been boycotting.

hegemon13 says:

One problem...

There is a problem with your theory Mike: bandwidth caps. This great new consumption method only works if the cable companies are forced the stop the anti-competitive practice of bandwidth capping. Otherwise viewing of online video will become prohibitively expensive. Bandwidth caps have nothing to do with bandwidth availability, but rather with the cable companies not wanting to compete with online media content.

Michael B says:

Re: One problem...

I hoped someone would bring thus up. If a person gets all of their TV over the Internet, their monthly cap will get eaten up quite quickly… add to that any HD content you stream and you have a mess. Cable TV has no cap, so the cable providers surely won’t uncap their Internet offering just to allow “competition” (a really dirty word to the cable industry).

kwahoo says:

RE: A La Carte

I’m lazy, cheap, and old-fashioned. I don’t want to mess with setting up a new TV, never mind a TV/home-entertainment-PC. I have enough trouble keeping my existing PC stable, and I am a computer engineer. I know how, I just hate the hassle. I want to channel surf. Right now I only get basic cable. The problem is that there are only a few extra channels I want — not enough to justify the extra $40/mo. Unfortunately, Comcast offers nothing in between: you either get a dozen channels or a zillion (mostly crap). It’s a shame that they stopped offering a menu of packages.

So I mostly leave the TV off and read. When I want to “channel surf” I pick up a magazine.

Comcast can rot in hell as far as I’m concerned. They clearly feel the same way about their customers. Aside from their new pricing, clearly designed to screw the customer, their customer service is a disaster.

McCrea says:

No Cable TV

I’m sure that I’m not the only one that doesn’t have TV service. It’s somewhat humorous that I choose cable for my Internet medium.

It’s been about 18 months, and I’m happy to save $45. For vegging I have numerous tapes and DVDs, and I can rent 20 movies a month for about the same charge. That’s 40 hours, which I’d be reluctant to watch more TV than that a month.

For news I use radio and news.google. The Internet is superior to the alternatives.

I was concerned about missing Battlestar Galactica, but I managed to see it, and the program is on yet another hiatus anyway.

I was very concerned about missing the Olympics, but NBC’s online coverage was superior to cable. I finally got to watch archery and judo, rather than rhythm gymnastics.

I might pay $20 per month for scifi, history, discover, and a tech channel — but this topic is about potential cost increase, so it’s nothing that affects me. Cable Co. has to seriously revamp their business model if they want customers like me.

ToySouljah says:

Re: No Cable TV

lol…I’m on the same wagon as you. I use my PC for everything (TV, Radio, Internet, Games…) I haven’t used Cable TV for a good while, but use their Internet (TW/RoadRunner). I signed up before the caps were put in place and so if I wanted to sign up for their TV service I would be capped (or so I’ve heard) under the new TOS. I hardly ever go over 250GB (at least from my Usenet monitor, but who knows how much total). I have hit over 400GB on Usenet alone, but those are very rare instances. Usenet is my main source of entertainment, and has been for about 7 or so years.

I too would like to have a package with the Discovery Channels, National Geographic, and a few others. I own a lot of DVD’s…well, about 200 (legally purchased), but I do download a lot of movies as well, and if it is worth it I will buy the actual DVD when it comes out (I usually get them before they hit the shelves). I do the same for my music, but I mostly buy from independent artists. I do download mainstream stuff, and again if the CD is worth it I will buy it, but now I go to the artists page and they usually have good deals to increase the value of their stuff. Like with Staind’s latest CD I pre-ordered it with a limited edition shirt for like $35. Then, Disturbed had 2 shirts and their CD for $45. I rarely go to the stores and buy CD’s since there are usually better deals online from the artists (or their labels rather).

So as you can see I do like to sample my stuff before spending money on it…lol.

What would be really cool is if the cable providers offered something like a flat fee for their entire library through an “on demand” channel and you could just watch what you wanted when you wanted with no worries of caps, commercials, and extra fees sneaking up on you (my mother thought some of her channels were free and included in her package since they showed up on her TV, but she didn’t read the part about having to subscribe to them since they make it so easy to sign up now and not know you are being charged until the bill gets there). Oh well, now she knows to read everything before clicking…lol. BTW, Time Warner, was nice enough to reverse the charges since she has been a customer of theirs since they bought out Roger’s here a LOOOONG time ago. We haven’t had any issues with them like I hear a lot of people complaining about. I’m in San Antonio, so I’m not sure if it is just different areas that are having customer service issues.

KevDude says:

Re: No Cable TV

I couldn’t agree with you more! I recently left the medical field for non-medical work and had a corresponding drop in pay to the tune of about 75%. So, I have elected to not even use a TV, much less deal with RIDICULOUS cable fees, and rely solely on my pc for all media and entertainment.

Being a sci-fi fan, I get MUCH more content online than I have with ANY cable company’s offerings in the past. The programming available online is improving in quality and quantity on a regular basis.

And, since I use Linux, rather than M$, I don’t have to deal with DRM (even though I don’t participate in pirating, DRM is a pain with M$ and Macs).

And, finally, Hulu ROCKS! Hoping for more like them!


jsprat says:


I fail to understand the cost aspect. As the cable companies move to digital cable service, how could it possibly require more hardware or extra effort? You send the receiving device a list of channels it can display, and you’re done. And why would rates go up? If suddenly the number of viewers for the extortionist (sports) channels drops, wouldn’t that give the cable companies the ability to negotiate far better rates to carry them? And so what if certain channels die – that’s even more proof that the current system subsidizes crap.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Huh?

“And so what if certain channels die – that’s even more proof that the current system subsidizes crap.”

aside from decade of errors on behalf of the cable companies, which put them in their current situation, religious channels are big about this. they rely on the channels for evangelistic purposes, like the channel surfer at 3 am.


and there is a lot of talk about not understanding the economics, but jsprat is correct, not all channels are equal. they pay varying amounts for every channel and if a channel drops drastically for long periods, the cable company could then negotiation a better price to carry that channel. if 90% of subscribers watch hbo and 10% watch showtime, does it make sense to charge the same amount for both?

it would also be a much better indicator for what shows are better liked by the consumer. lets face it, the neilsons rating and other sampling services don’t work. if they did, fox wouldn’t have canceled family guy years ago, only to have it make tons of money selling dvds. there are lots of flaws in the system that all parties can benefit from by being fixed.

Joe Krahn says:

We probably just need to be patient

With digital transmission, channel line-ups will become much more flexible. The problem is that many cable customers still use analog TV, probably the majority. Once they can drop analog support, the flexibility of digital transmission will open up more possibilities.

The first post said most users don’t want a cable box. Maybe some day standard TVs will have a way to load digital decryption keys.

Michael B says:

Re: We probably just need to be patient

Guess you haven’t heard… most cable systems have pushed most of their content to the digital tier, requiring a set-top box. Theoretically, the technology is in place today… for example, if I choose Bloomberg TV on my Comcast digital system, I get a “Not Authorized” message because I am not paying for it. So, the cable companies already have the technology in place to provide a person with a customized menu of their chosen channels.

Bradley Stewart (profile) says:


First I would like to say that I don’t want to watch television on my computers even though one has a 24in. monitor and the other one has a 28in. monitor. For a basic package I pay 21 dollars a month. I had all the permium packages up until a couple of months ago. 984 dollars a year. I cancelled them all. I’m not interested in most of the fare. The things that I am interested in quickly turn into endless reruns immediatly. I don’t mean next week or a month from now but immediatly. How about Clogg Dancing from Holland. Spanish speaking Stations and an endless supply of Religious Programing and lets not forget about all those facinating Infomercials. Im no green kid who just came down the pike. I understand that the Cable Company’s will incur additional expenses if they give us ala cart but I believe it can be done economically. Its time that we stopped accepting all the excusses from these Company’s. Folks enough is enough.

davidwr says:

Internet-TV over cable box

I’d love it if my digital cable box could show me a list of “my shows” that I’d pre-selected from my PC.

“My shows” would be recurring shows made available either over the Internet or to my cable provider from anywhere in the world.

I’d pay a small bandwidth charge for every minute I actually watched plus a premium fee for subscription content, minus an allowance for every minute of advertising I didn’t fast-forward over. So, if I wanted to watch high school football from several states away, and my cable company could get access to it, I could watch it. I or an advertiser would pay my cable company who in turn would probably pay a fee to the schools that were playing.

Greg Andrew says:

Cable A L Carte

No one is arguing that a la carte would cost consumers more because of technical issues. Years ago there were real technical roadblocks to a la carte; there aren’t any now.

The reason a la carte would cost consumers more – and by that I mean the average consumer would pay more for less – is because the cable companies make their money in two different ways – subscriber fees and advertising. If cable companies let everybody choose which channels they wanted, advertising revenues would decline sharply for both the cable networks and the cable operators, and channels would sharply raise their prices.

Let’s say a consumer is paying $75 a month for basic digital. If that customer were to just pick the networks he would be willing to pay for, there might be about 15. But the consumer is actually paying the cable company about $110 for those 15 channels. Meanwhile, the cable company is paying the consumer back $35 a month to take the channels that the consumer has little interest in. Because the consumer will spend some time watching those extra channels he wouldn’t have ordered, cable can sell their advertising on those channels for more money

Every consumer has different favorites, of course, but the way this works out is that cable networks are able to maximize their revenue through a combination of subscriber fees and ad revenue. If most of that ad revenue disappears, then a lot of cable networks will find it more profitable to become niche networks that require every member of a much smaller subscriber base to pay a lot more in fees to get that one network.

Some consumers – those who would only subscribe to maybe 3 or 4 cable networks – would make money. Pay cable networks like HBO would make a lot more money under an a la carte system, since potentials customers wouldn’t have to pay $50 a month to just be eligible to order HBO. A significant number of networks would go out of business, including some large ones. I suspect that CNN would have a lot more problem than FOX News or MSNBC, because the latter channels have more avid fans. The avidity of a channels viewers – and thus their willingness to pony up $10 a month for that channel – would matter a lot more than overall viewership size. Some networks, no doubt, would go the PBS route and hold pledge drives (If you want to to continue to see GSN bring you classic game shows, please send us a check for $100 and we’ll mail you back an autographed copy of Gene Rayburn’s autobiography featuring an exclusive cover with embossed lettering!)

I’m not a big fan of most of the cable companies. They get to overcharge customers while providing poor customer service because they have close to a monopoly in many places. And they’ve fought very hard to make sure the government shields them from real competition. But in the case of the debates over a la carte, the cable companies are correct – requiring total a la carte will result in higher rates for less programming. Forcing a la carte into the system would be like removing a fish that plays an important role as both prey and predator in an ecosystem.

Offbeatmammal (profile) says:

IPTV, Hulu via PlayOn and BitTorrent...

there are so many alternative ways of getting the content today for the technologically savvy that the cable cos need to start looking at acceptable alternatives because if they don’t their cozy little monopoly will dry up and they’ll be turned into dumb pipes fighting for every customer/byte.
Just like VoIP is starting to hurt the telcos it will make it’s way to the typical consumer
Imagine a way to watch movies on-demand on your Xbox… oh, you can with Netflix. Hulu, EPSN, CBS and other content… PlayOn (http://getplayon.com), AppleTV. Microsoft MediaCenter etc … all make it easy to use BitTorrent to get any show you want from anywhere in the world
Of the 100 channels Comcast try to deliver to me, I maybe use 5. If it wasn’t for my daughter wanting to watch cartoon network and the ability for me to get live sports… we’d probably have got rid of the service in favor of just using the cheapest pipe…

Bob says:

It's a bunch of tubes man

ASTC OTA and my pipe to the tubes FTW.

Every time the cable company buys new equipment it deducts the price it paid for it from it’s taxes.

The telcos have been given huge tax incentives to update their infrastructure but my old phone bill still has me paying for pert of that. Ergo the reason I am on vonage.

Whet it comes down to is if you don’t like to pays then you don’t needs to buy.

hantsd says:


Did you check the entire list? As TFA says, they list only 15 out of the complete list here:

I wasn’t aware that HBO, showtime, Nickelodeon, Disney, Comedy Central, and SciFi Channel were free non cable channels.

BTW, I didn’t take the time to see if those were Hulu, Other, Netflix, or Itunes, but feel free if you are interested.

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Anonymous Coward says:

The are some big issues with Hulu and like ‘legal’ sites.

One is not(supposed to be..) able to save the stream to replay whenever you want commercial free. More importantly though is that there are ‘country borders’ where for example Canadian viewers cannot access media like American Dad without using a proxy.

It is far easier and more efficient to simply torrent or otherwise acquire the episodes you want commercial free and without artificial restrictions in place. Until cross-border licensing becomes a thing of the past, sites like Hulu hold little interest to myself and likely other such affected potential viewers.

Traditional media-distributors and hopefully ISPs as more than an unmolested internet connection, as a whole, will fast and rightly so become an endangered business practice.
There is no need to force upon the consumer bells and whistles they can get find shinier bells and prettier whistles at a reduced cost if not free.

Blitz says:

A La Carte

I could care less about the ability to split up the channel line up based on preference. I pay for the entire package whether I watch it or not and I am fine with that.

What I WOULD like to see is the ability to add additonal out-of-market channels. I do not see why a consumer could not choose to add on say CBS from X city so they could watch the regional football game or add the local cable channel that is only availble from that area. Unless I want to fork over hundreds of dollars to get the NFL or MLB entire package, I can not longer watch the teams I want…only what the powers that be TELL me I can watch. I have not the time nor desire to watch EVERY football or baseball game…but I would like to see every one from my old city.

Just my ¢!


SpeakTruth says:

Stop the lies...

The writer of this article and the first poster are full of it. There have been numerous studies done that show most customers will save money.

The simple fact that small mom and pop cable companies and the large dish providers are able to provide this service is proof that not only is it possible, but it is cost effective. This has been demonstrated several times so stop the industry regergating lies.

There are 2 simple reasons this is being resisted by the monopolies. 1.) They benefit from the forced bundling by having higher rates that they get a bigger payout for and advertising from. 2.) They can continue to hide behind forced bundling and use that as their scape goat anytime anyone questions them.

As with everything else.. all you have to do is follow the money and see who benefits from this. It certainly is not the customer and thus it is not done for the customer’s benefit and is therefore done for the benefit of the providers and the content owners.

Lastly, A la carte would not eliminate bundles any more than a la carte eliminates the need for value menus. It would simply give consumers the ability to choose what they want and not have it forced (and thus their bill forced up) because it is what the noncompetitive monopolies want. And online stuff available is no where need ready to replace actual TV and won’t be for years. (Nice try again). It is nice though that these same companies are attempting to protect themselves from this technology advancement as well by implementing caps all in the name of “network management”. Telco’s and cable companies just need to roll over and become the dumbpipes they truly are (for internet) so technology can advance.

bob says:

I essentially have ala-carte cable. I record the shows from the channels I pay for. For the channels where I’d only watch one show, the charge is too high so I watch those from on-line sources. There are also shows from overseas that aren’t available in the U.S. the internet provides those as well.

It’s too bad companies try to eke every last dime out of people. They spoil a lot of good programming by trying to sell it around, tacking on extras, or reformatting things for local audiences.

One planet, one people, one global network, just let me cherry pick what I want and I’ll be happy to pay for it … as long as it’s not through the nose.

robster says:

As to the title of this thread "Why Mandate A La Carte Cable When It's Happening Online Already?"

That’s a bumb qusetion to put forth and an easy one to refute.

Not EVERYONE in the country who has cable/satellite has high speed internet connections… even if they do they may not know how to use it effectively.

Cable/Satellite has been around for 30 yrs or more – my grandparents are comfortable with it, but would be hard pressed to navigate their way around Hulu to find theire fav episode of Matlock!

Cable Fan says:

Horse Puckey

The BUD satellite operators offered ala-carte ten years ago, as did Dish. The only obstacle is the obstinance of the pay-tv industry, which hides behind “the content providers made us do it”.

Hulu, YouTube, iTunes and Netflix and other internet sites may offer a lot of variety, but they don’t offer the same content that is available on the cable networks, and to date, each site presents a different interface, search mechanism, and display format. It is not “ala-carte”.

Hotels, Dorms, Hospitals, HOAs and other Bulk/MDU buyers can assemble their own channel lineups and the per-channel charges are nominal. With today’s STB’s and internet billing, there is no reason that ala carte can’t be made available, except that its more profitable to force us to buy channels we don’t want.

Sure, a small percentage of us disconnect altogether. But most of America is fat and lazy, and paying $60 a month to watch LifeTime is cheaper than a divorce, so the cable and satellite guys win.

Emmet Gibney (user link) says:

I totally agree, there is no reason to mandate A La Carte Cable. It would reduce the number of niche channels available to customers, and increase the cost on a channel by channel basis.

In analog it just isn’t practical from a technical perspective. It isn’t as simple as “controlling it from the office”, you have to send a tech out to filter the content at the customer’s home, and filtering based on a channel by channel basis would not be practical (it’s hard to explain, I work as a tech so take my word on this one).

As for digital, yes of course they are making more money by bundling, but customers are voting with their wallets, and they are voting for more choice. In order to have any hope of competing with online which has a variety of niche content, you need to bundle channels to give the smaller channels, that would have no hope on their own, a large enough audience to get picked up. I’m sure that it is also often the case that the bundles are all from the same company (if you want one of our cable channels, you need to take the other two as well).

I also think the attitude of “the operators are ripping people off” is silly when we’re talking about television. It’s entertainment, not tap water. It’s far from a necessary service, if it’s not the best way to be offering services to customers, it’s because they could be making more money another way. If somehow they could offer a better service for more people by selling channels a la carte, they would have already done it because that would make them more money.

Richard says:


I live in AZ and am forced to buy, if I want cable: 8 religious channels, 6 shopping channels , and 5 spanish language channels.

I rent, though i’d prefer to buy; yet that’s not possible, a digital convertor box. It has a feature called ” ON DEMAND”. a majority of the programming is in SPANISH. There is no SAP ( in English) Yet, the English language channels have, mostly, SAP in Spanish.

I have no objection to other language programing. I just DON’T WANT IT and object to paying for it

Paul says:

ala carte is no problem, cable is just greedy

The argument here is baloney.
Alacarte is possible, its already in Canada and elsewhere.
All the US cable providers behave like robber barons because they’ve been given a monopoly and are using it to their advantage.
Alacarte is a simple database, which can be all done online.
Hell, even I can write the software routine for that.
If I want to watch it, I will pay for it. If I don’t , I don’t want to sift through a zillion channels of garbage to get to it.

jo schmo says:

a la carte

well, it’s simple. If i don’t want MTV on my service, i should be able to have it’s signal not reach my home. It’s not enough to say that I could block it or lock it myself, I shouldn’t have to do that. If I don’t want your bullshit lame ass channels like MTV, BRAVO and that gay bullshit LOGO in my home, well…… I’d pay extra to have the NFL network and simply get rid of about 40 other channels. It’s the principle of the thing called ‘freedom of choice’ and freedom of speech, …… you’re free to do and say what you want, just not on my time and not in my home.

Screw you hollywood………… take your liberal bullshit and go to hell. btw…………. thank god the supreme court of california upheld prop 8. Kudo’s …………

Me says:

Re: a la carte

Right now I have to not only recieve MTV, I have to pay MTV. Under the current system I’m paying for people and Networks I would never want to support in any way. Of course the cable companies and the entertainment industry like it the way it is; They get to force 50% of their costomers to pay for a majority of networks they despise or not get TV service at all. Online isn’t there yet, I wish it was.

“Yo celebrity, Dance monkey dance”

TBar says:

No cable

Ever since I moved from my college apartment, where cable came with the rent, I have not been able to get myself to subscribe to cable. So we just go with the old-fashioned antennae. And now with digital TV, the quality is great and there are more channels. Sure, sometimes it’s painful to miss a great game on ESPN, a good show on Discovery, or the Factor on Fox News, but it’s a sacrifice worth making. If I could get those channels a la carte, I would think about it. But I just can’t bring myself to pay over $60 per month for a bunch of crap piping into my living room. In 15 years of marriage, that comes to more than $10,000 saved.

It’s only a matter of time before my favorite shows are offered as video podcasts, and I’ll buy them a la carte anyway.

Joe the plumber says:

Cable package deals are nuts!

They moved all the popular changes to the most expensive package. The most basic package for $50 a month includes nothing but commercials, informercials, shopping networks, in-show advertising, advertising in the left and right corners of the screen, and 40 music channels. I want Discovery, National Geographic, and History. In order to get those channel I basically have to pay $160+ per month for 1000+ channels of stuff I do not want. 95% of that stuff is trash. Reruns of tv shows that are free on broadcast(OTA) tv. Why am I paying for re-runs? Get some original content. Tons of commercials. Why am I paying to watch commercials? F*ck it I am going to cancel. There is no way 3 channels in an a la carte package will equal $160 a month.

cable consumer/worker says:


Who is we? Is this some sadistic new terrorist group with no name or perhaps just a majestic plural?

Forcing a la carte would enable consumers to choose who lives and dies in the world of tv stations. It could potentially save consumers money as these companies vie for our dollars trying to avoid our cancellation. Even if the cost to the consumer would not fall there would still be benefits.
As it stands I pay my cable bill to watch a handful of channels. I have to flip through 70 something channels that I NEVER watch just to find something I would. I’d gladly pay the same rate for 10 percent of the channels and not support those stations that I consider to be filler.
Saying that the equipment needed for this would be expensive is nothing short of a smoke screen. The equipment currently in use is expensive. The coax that runs pole to pole is expensive. The cost to pay someone to climb those poles is expensive. Yet, all of those taps, amplifiers, nodes, strands of coax and fiber are hanging there for all to see.

dthr says:

Perhaps we need plastic cards manufacturer to ask

the person if it is not so foolish as to say the words, plastic cards manufacturer while the

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truyh says:

Perhaps plastic card

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truyh says:

Perhaps plastic card

company the best way is for each subsequent session of the

new U.S. president plastic card company takes office, the Nobel

Peace Committee have deemed it the “Peace Prize”, so also is

plastic card company difficult to fight the war up plastic card


Today’s Obama in

supplier.co.uk”>smart card service Nobel committee is a

group have a good, full of hope for peace smart card

serviceprofessionals, they want to use their own special

rewards for those who hold smart card service the power of

human life or death over the people, to lay down their evil

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eesa says:

let me choose what I want. I have no need for the 700 club!

Government forcing a la carte on cable providers? Seriously?
..and the problem is what? The cable companies want consumers to pay for channels they may not give a click for; like sports or church stuff. If the government is forcing cable companies to offer an a la carte option in addition to selling packages then isn’t it forcing the cable to stop forcing something on the consumer? More freedom baby.

Sushi menu style cable… no dragon boat for me today- you put too much mackerel in it. I will order a plate full of sake, unagi, and ikura instead mmmmmmmm.

Anonymous Coward says:

Comcast is nuts.

It doesn’t seem to self regulate so where else would consumers turn? I want 2 TV channels, and I end up paying $115. There’s one channel I want in “expanded basic” $55 and another in “digital plus” $60. And their lowdef digital sucks ass – it is such inferior quality to analog TV with blotchy compression.

Anonymous Coward says:


I dont see it as hard. My TV is on a total of 10 hours a week. I stream video on my computer the rest of the time. I pay for the service. Netflix. Sometimes when I really want to a get an On-demand movie. 3.99 I just watched Iron Man 2. How can they tell what I ordered. Its because the ala cart is already there. Heck they even have Prime-time On-demand. And just incase my DVR didnt record or I didnt catch it, I go to their website. NY is going to miss a game on FOX this week because they want to double their price. from 80 million to 150 million. But I can watch House or Glee on their website but not a baseball game. Why not make the game Pay-per view. Then Fox would make so much more. Make everything pay per view. The network is there the hard ware is there. Hey Scientific Altantic new digital DVRS are Cisco and Java based, they have an IP address and a MAC address. It is so possible. I dont know what idiots think by saying we dont have the abilities, are they an office junkie the person we call when our service is bad? We have an on demand network that is supportted byt every major cable company in the US. We have Fiber running all our trunk lines with copper running from the neighborhood node to each house. Our phone, cable, and internet run of of these lines, and every house has almost 2-3 DVR with on-demand. On a given day in my house we have 1 DVR playing someone on the phone, an online gamer and a video stream coming in. And we cant support this? please. In fact even hotels do Ala cart. BTW. A person can get a video guide with the right software on their computer and operate it with a remote control. People are building their own set-top boxes now and paying for internet only, and there is no trouble…….Do you know why cable modems are external from a PC. Its because its the same tech as a TV tuner card just at a different freq.

Anonymous Coward says:

The idea that there would be some huge expense to make the system a la cart is total BS. The boxes would simply work the same way for every channel as they do for HBO/SHO…. And yes, for anyone that wants 232 channels it SHOULD cost more than it does now. But I pay for 202 channels now, don’t try to tell me the 18 channels I watch will cost the same.

Fox wants to charge a ton? Well other than the NFL I don’t care for the channel so I’ll dump them 2/3 of the year.

Mr. Call it like it is. says:

A La Carte

Give the consumer the power to allow only what they want. The technoligy is there and cable companies are simply holding on to profitable advertisement channels which are forced down our throats.Anybody that thinks they have to add more equiptment to do this task is simply full of it. I could care less about all the bullsh-t on MTV or BET or any of the other degenerate channels. I want clear local channels and a few others that have entertainment or educational value.

mr. tell it like it is. says:

A La Carte

Which cable company do you work for and how much BS are they really feeding you? The cost of any equiptment is absorbed in an already established maintenance account for upgrades/updates and wear & tear replacements. And yes, I do have in depth understanding of how these systems work and the greed that protects them.

Unk Constant says:

A few years later...

The author didn’t consider the stakes the content holders have and the entangling alliances / licensing agreements they have in place.

So, here we are, a few years later – Where’s that a la carte TV? Hulu doesn’t play with set top boxes unless you pay, and even then they’re picky about those with whom they associate. Premium channels aren’t streaming. Want to stream NFL games? Good luck with that.

Why should the government get involved? Because cable companies are endorsed monopolies in most areas. That’s not free trade.

Reymont says:

A La Carte

Are you kidding me? They already sell channels in packages, so they already have the ability to determine what channels I can receive – they’ve had that for decades. I can call up and have the Disney channel added to my package, or move up to the “Silver Package” of channels, and they don’t need to install any new equipment or send anyone to my house. They click a toggle button on their UI and it’s activated instantly.

I pay $79/month, and I only watch Comedy Central, G4, and F/X. You can’t tell me that my bill would go up if they let me cut all the stupid sports and ‘Dancing With The Stars’ and movie channels and all the other freaking trash out there…

Anonymous Coward says:

The cable companies don’t want the FCC to control but they find ways to have programming exclusively with them so you are forced to have cable. I have noticed quite a few shows that were available on hulu of Netflix no longer viewable. Fact of matter they know there is completion and they want to get as much money out of you for shitty service pay 150 to watch only 5 channels because they want to break them up so you have to purchase multiple packages because they know what channels are popular. You want MTV okay that’s in package a but if you want vh1 oh that in pack b by the time you are done just for 5 channels you have a bill of 200 wtf I don’t need all thies channels I just want the ones I watch

EcurbTProphet (profile) says:

A La Carte

I would happily pay more for a la carte cable tv – and here’s why…

I would FEEL so much better believing none of my subscription dollars would be going to produce all of those incredibly asinine voyeur shows – you know the ones I’m talking about; House Wives, Duck Dodgers, Honey Boo (oh thank GOD that’s off the air) Boo, The Karcrashians, etc, etc.

That TRASH is ruining this country. People are beginning to believe it is ALRIGHT to act like that.

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