Monday, October 18, 2004

Sayanora OLN!

Choice in cable? I've talked about this for a long time. If someone offered me the chance, I can easily think of the five channels I'd pick (and none of them would ABC, CBS, or NBC, or CNN for that matter). Why subject me to all the programming I don't want and keep raising a "basic" package in price and channels everytime? The fact, for one, that part of my cable bill money goes to Fox News disgusts me. And the fact that I help fund OLN, G4, and Pax is just irritating. Why not let me be a consumer and have some choice, even if it in the end I might have to pay more PER CHANNEL than I do now.

Turns out a la carte cable programming is a touchy issue. It's a telecom industry nightmare because it would involve imposing actual regulations on a completely unregulated market. And, it's become wrapped up with. . .civil rights? That's right, somehow the issue of minority programming became part of the equation. That is, AFTER the cable company lobbies contributed huge amounts of money to these foundations, of course. The issue has become so muddled now that it's unlikely any movement will be achieved in the near future, which is a sad loss.

Now, I'm normally one to think Telecom laws and regulations on the whole are pretty asinine. Most of the time they turn out to be anti-competitive and create little room for innovation and lots of room for high prices. There's potential here, as there is sometimes with regulatory environments, to actually CREATE competition, if not amongst cable providers then amongst the channels. In this case I'd argue that imposing a regulation of this variety actually makes cable channels MORE competitive with one another and MORE market-based by not just affecting their advertising dollars but also their collection of cable fees. Lastly, even the advertising would be helped in the end by audience segmentation. Marketing would be more clear cut because they would have a better idea what consumers of a given channel are like since they paid for the channel and aren't just surfing. Just a thought. If we don't keep the FCC around for stuff like this, then what use are they?