Cable a la carte?

Couch potatoes have been asking the question for years: why do the cable companies make you sign up for 57 different channels on trout fishing and knitting, when all you want is access to ESPN and Comedy Central?

Cable companies have fought any changes to the tier-pricing model, saying it would actually end up costing consumers more, and would hurt programming diversity. But now the government may be getting involved.

Federal Communications Chairman Kevin Martin said Tuesday that cable a la carte is economically feasible and in the best interest of consumers.

Martin didn't go so far as to say he would force cable companies to change their pricing, but did suggest that companies might face more restrictions on basic cable programming if the industry doesn't offer consumers more choice.

Blog community response:

"Another aspect to keep in mind ... at some point, AT&T, Verizon and others offering IPTV video packages in competition with cable and satellite likely will be dragged into the discussion."

"I like the idea, because it means that the channels will have to fight for good programming in every time slot instead of just trying to fill time as cheap as possible. The only question that remains, is how much each channel will cost?"

"The FCC's regulatory authority over broadcast television and radio has been justified based on the mythical idea that the airwaves are a "public resource" that must be regulated in the public interest. No such justification can be applied to either cable or satellite television, or radio, but yet the FCC appears on the verge of trying to extend its regulatory authority into these areas as well."
--Below the Beltway

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