Even If It Breaks Up Viacom Bundle, Cablevision Won’t Commit To A La Carte Cable

Earlier this week, Cablevision sued broadcasting biggie Viacom for its practice of requiring cable and satellite carriers to buy a wide range of channels — many of them with small audiences — in order to be able to air the few stations with mass appeal. But it doesn’t look like Cablevision is open to the idea of giving customers the same level of choice.

“Without forced bundling… cable providers could tailor smaller and lower-priced packages to specific audiences,” explains Charlie Schueler, Cablevision’s executive VP of communications, to the L.A. Times’ David Lazarus.

While more options and a higher level of customization is great, what about the dream of most cable subscribers — truly a la carte cable? Schueler’s comment seems to indicate that customers would have more choices, but that those choices would still be organized into newer and more bundles, rather than being to cherry-pick the channels you want.

“We would offer more flexibility to customers,” continued Schueler. “We would favor anything that offers broader choices and flexibility for customers.”

When Lazarus points out that Schueler does not use the phrase “a la carte,” the Cablevision exec responds coyly, “Choice and flexibility are the words I’ll offer.”

We support the notion of cable and satellite carriers fighting back against broadcasters who compel them to purchase bundles of channels that consumers may not want, but we also hope that if the Cablevision suit is successful that consumers will not have to go to court to fight for the same freedom to choose what we purchase.

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