FCC Chairman Supports a la Carte Cable, Needs Congressional Support

We know what you want… a ala carte cable! The good news is that FCC Chairman Kevin Martin supports the idea, the bad news is that he needs the support of Congress to get it done. From Multichannel News:

Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin said in House testimony Tuesday on Capitol Hill that he would support legislation forcing cable operators to allow consumers to purchase more programming on an individual or a la carte basis, an FCC official said.

The FCC official said Martin testified that an a la carte law was justified because nominal cable rates kept rising and because consumers who tend to watch 15-17 channels still need to buy dozens of channels they don’t want in order to see their favorites.

Martin, who praised a la carte options available to Canadian cable subscribers, told Regula the FCC can’t force an a la carte on U.S. cable operators without a change in the law, the FCC official said.

Here it is, folks. Yet another “tell your Congressperson” moment. Lest you think this will achieve nothing, think back on the DirecTV “Extra Innings” deal. Let’s assume for a moment that you’d like to direct your complaints to a media whore who’ll listen to them if the topic is something that will get him on TV. May we humbly suggest the Honorable Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts? Kerry has both an nterest in Cable TV issues and a history of writing letters to Kevin Martin.—MEGHANN MARCO

Martin Endorses a la Carte Legislation [Multichannel News via Ars Technica]


Edit Your Comment

  1. unwritten07 says:

    Go Kevin, go Kevin…

    Is he running for president?

    All I want is the 3 networks, CNN & TWC. That would cost me $40-50 the way the channels are bundled. Right now I pay $11 for limited basic which is the 3 networks and 27 channels of other crap.

    If I want the weather or to check the current body count (at home or abroad) I’ll go online. I shouldn’t have to quadruple my cable bill to see two more channels.

  2. catnapped says:

    Time Warner, CBS/Paramount, et al and their paid lackeys will make sure that any ala carte legislation is buried deeper than any of Bush’s skeletons. Don’t hold your breath…

  3. AvatarZ says:

    You can contact your congressman / woman + senators quickly at


  4. jgkelley says:

    You put up Digg links for Geek Squad watching women in the shower but not for the chance to enact legislation that could potentially lower the majority of all cable subscribers’ bills by significant percentages? Gawker Media FTW. :D

  5. ThinkAboutItPlease says:

    I didn’t know a teenager was in charge of the FCC.

  6. royal72 says:

    bravo kevin!!! now go sit down and think of something else to keep you busy, because we all know it will never, ever, ever happen. i got a better shot at winning the lotto.

  7. nctrnlboy says:

    i have to pay nearly 100 dollars month to get the 20 or so channels I ACTUALLY want to watch. And with that comes 50+ channels I have no interest in. Its BS. IF I want only the premium cable movie channels & nothing else…. I should be able to get them.

  8. indianaguy says:

    this is bad on all kinds of levels. why does the government need to stick thier nose into this. obviously all of the problems in the US are fixed and congress has nothing better to do.

    anyways ala cart cable is not the answer. first off it will increase the price of cable as it is. and cable is a dieing form of medium anywas. services like youtube and joost are the wave of the future. you’ll start to seeing network level television on those kind of services ( which you already do on joost, which I have 3 invites for BTW )

  9. saintjohnson says:

    Wow. I’ve been spouting off at the mouth about Comcast offering channels a la carte and here it is…

    I’m a strong believer in it.

    I’m even paying $7.50/mth for the limited basic service…cable channels 2-13.

    At least I’m watching TV efficiently…but I still have to bum recordings of Battlestar Gallactica. :(

  10. Starfury says:

    I’d prefer to be able to get channels a la carte. That way I could cut off the stations I don’t want (QVC) and add the ones I do want (BBC/Sci-Fi)

    maybe I’ll just switch to AT&T for my TV or satellite.

  11. Mr. Gunn says:

    Gee, if they did that I might consider actually paying for cable, instead of stea…downl… I mean, not having it.

  12. kubus_gt says:

    For all the cheerleader or the a la carte, especially those with the family values blinders on, your a la carte viewing should be done using your brain, remote and DVR/VCR combo not dictated by gov’t oversight.
    Let me give you a sample pricing for a la carte programming that you might get from your MSO:
    Basic fee for local channels plus one or two cable is about $10. With A La carte, those two cable channels will be removed, hey it’s a bundle right? Now let’s add 2 channels that some mentioned earlier, CNN and TWC. CNN is owned by Turner, and is “sold” to MSO as a bundle. So you get your CNN, but also Headline, TBS, TNT, Court etc. Turner will not agree to separate and will sue if MSO will do that. Your friend Kevin does not think that far ahead to realize it. The cost for this bundle to MSO is let’s say 75 cents a network, so that comes out to 3.75, but wait that’s cost. MSO has to make profit, let’s say .25 a net, so right there is $5. That’s not all. The pricing is based on number of subscribers, so in case of Comcast with over 26 mils, that .75 per net is a bargian. However since now people have a choice and only 6 mil will subscribe to Turner, the price goes up to 1.50 a net so now we are at 7.50, plus profit 8.25. That’s not all. Cable channels get majority of their income from commercial time and prices are set based on reach of the network. CNN for example is the oldest network with over 90 mil eyeballs, but not that great ratings. Now thanks to a la carte, CNN’s reach gets cut by half. Advertisers leave, CNN can’t charge the same CPMs, oh let’s go back and raise the price for MSOs then, or maybe just cut their local avials. Comcast also gets revenue from ads, local mostly. Their reach thanks to a la carte gets smaller, so they are no longer attractive to local auto dealer, so they are raising their rates, cause stockholders (you) are screaming. Even worse, since CNN is has such a small net now with 45 mil viewers, and wants more money per subscriber and doesn’t have local avials, Comcast cuts them from the lineup. Consumer will save money, by not having cable at all and doing what every parent should do – pay attention to their kids and not let the gov’t do it for you!!!
    I’m not even going to mention the other side effects of a la carte. You want your Battlestar, by a DVD, series cost too much and SCI-FI can’t afford it. Just an example.

  13. rhanzelka says:

    We (wife and myself) entered a two year contract (that we understood at
    the time to be a one year contract)with Direct TV in late 2007. Big mistake!
    I have had problems with the service from the beginning. It started with
    shoddy installation that prohibited me from locking my home and protecting
    my family and valuables from break in. We are plagued with downtime due to
    faulty equipment that won’t even last through the contract period. When we
    request service on their defective equipment, they tell us they are going to
    charge us to fix their equipment. I had cablevision for 30 years prior to
    getting screwed by Direct TV. This is the worst service coupled with the
    worst product I have ever been stuck with in my entire life. The worst thing
    that ever happened with cablevision was being down for 2-3 hours once every
    year or two because of a down line. When I call Direct TV for service, they
    tell me it will be a week to ten days before they can get to me. So I am
    without television for that long but am still charged for it. I am also
    expected to take four to eight hours out of my work day every time Direct TV
    comes to my home. The last time I was told service would be performed
    between eight o’clock in the morning and noon. The technician did not even
    arrive onsite until 12:10 p.m. Service was not performed until after the
    agreed upon time that it would be completed. That was just two week ago. Now
    the service is broken again and we are told it will be another week before
    they can come to fix it. How long will the FCC go on allowing Direct TV to
    cheat and take advantage of customers? I would love to have the opportunity
    to do a commercial for cable television. After being subjected to customer
    service as poor as Direct TV, I know what the worst is. And to top it all
    off, when my wife negotiated this contract with Direct TV she was told that
    it was a one year agreement. Two weeks ago when we had trouble the last
    time, we were informed that it was a two year and not a one year contract
    that we originally agreed to. I suppose we can throw a little deceptive
    in for good measure… huh? This is the worst experience I have ever had
    with any vendor in my 50 years and I will make sure I tell everybody that
    has ears to hear.