The latest programming package from cable giant Comcast would give consumers a very limited selection, essentially cutting basic cable entirely out of the picture. Parents Television Council thinks it’s a great idea.
The Comcast plan is a step up from bare bones. It offers internet, local broadcast, the premium content of HBO, and that’s it. The package is priced at $39.99 per month.
PTC is strong backer of an a la carte option for cable subscribers. Partly it serves the belief that consumers should have a measure of control over their cable bill and should not have channels they do not want forced upon them. In PTC’s case, it does not want to see its own subscription money used to support channels with what it considers to be objectionable content.
PTC’s Tim Winter said, “It’s welcome news for any cable company to offer some measure of choice to consumers when most cable companies say they can’t give consumers more choice.”
PTC suggested that if it makes sense to unbundle HBO from the rest of the entire Comcast lineup, it should make sense to unbundle other channels too.
RBR-TVBR observation: Of course, this is not even remotely similar to the a la carte menu PTC has been pushing for. In our humble opinion, we don’t imagine this is going to be a wildly popular option, and it certainly doesn’t make any sense at all to offer a series of such packages, replacing the HBO option with Showtime or ESPN or something else.
Further, we see no relationship between this and a full-blown a la carte system at all.
The problem with a la carte is that it holds potential to kill the diversity of content currently available on most cable systems, while at the same time doing little to control consumer cost.
Canada is supposedly moving to a la carte — it will be interesting to see if there are any repercussions that might inform the debate here in the US. We’ll be watching.