TV SERVED A LA CARTE
May 2, 2006
TV served a la carte
Why can't Americans do this now? Because there is too little competition, too much regulation and not enough consumer choice in the cable TV business. As a result, in just the last two years alone cable prices have increased at twice the rate of inflation -- and more than 90% since 1995. Cable companies explain away their skyrocketing prices by saying they are giving you more and more channels. At no time, however, have the cable companies actually asked if you want those additional channels. You have to pay for them whether you want them or not.
The solution to high cable bills isn't price controls or additional government regulation. It is more competition and more choice. For that reason, Congress should pass the proposed Consumers Having Options in Cable Entertainment Act -- the CHOICE Act -- which is being introduced today. It would allow cable companies to compete nationally for your business (rather than only at the local level) in exchange for agreeing to offer channels a la carte, either individually or in smaller bundles.
The Government Accountability Office has found that cable rates are 15% lower when a community has at least two companies competing for consumers. The Federal Communications Commission found that consumers could lower their monthly cable bill by as much as 13% if they had a la carte programming options.
And parents would never be forced to purchase a slew of channels, some not suitable for young children, simply to receive those channels that their family enjoys watching together.
Real-world examples illustrate the benefits of greater choice and more competition coming through our TV sets. In
, viewers can select and pay for only the channels they want. A family that wants to watch sports, movies, news and children's programming can receive 15 free channels plus a selection of 11 additional digital channels (including
Interestingly, the same companies that oppose selling channels individually or in smaller packages in the
Today, cable choice and competition have been successful around the world. Consumers in
and at the same time make sure that companies offer us true choice in cable programming?
Credit: SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-Ariz.) is introducing the CHOICE Act. KEVIN MARTIN is the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.