Watchdog uses blackouts to call for a la carte


PTC / Parents Television CouncilParents Television Council has long been an advocate for a la carte MVPD menus, largely because they do not wish to receive channels like MTV and FX. PTC is using the current blackouts to renew the call for a pick-and-choose-your-channels option.

PTC not only wants to choose which channels come into its home, it also wants no role whatsoever in funding the channels it finds offensive – and it does not want to do so in the form of programming bundles that are forced down subscriber’s throats.

According to PTC, DirecTV said it is willing to consider going to an a la carte model but was turned down by Viacom.

PTC’s Tim Winter said, “The contract negotiation between DirecTV and Viacom is the latest startling example of failure in the marketplace through forced product bundling. DirecTV offered to craft an a la carte business model that would empower consumers to vote with their wallets, but Viacom turned them down. By refusing to negotiate in this manner, Viacom is insisting that distributors, and by extension their customers, pay billions every year for channels they do not even want. During these hard economic times, consumers don’t need the additional cost of cable channels that they do not watch and may even find offensive.”

RBR-TVBR observation: According to the numbers we’ve seen, many are still out of work and in general, salaries and wages have been stagnant for years now. On the other hand, MVPD subscriptions bloat a little more every single year.

That certainly is the case in this household. We recently took steps to decrease our subscription. We’re still paying for a lot of material we never use.

And it’s not just us – according to BIGinsight research, less than one third of Americans aged 18 or older are regular watchers of ESPN – yet we all subsidize that third’s ESPN habit to the tune of about $60 a year, according to estimates.

Nickelodeon is on the pricy side. But unless you have children, it’s useless – so why pay for it?
The MVPD industry has historically resisted calls for a la carte – just ask Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) or former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin if you don’t believe us. It’s interesting that some are reported as being willing to consider it.

At any rate, we believe local broadcast stations would fare well in an a la carte environment – but it sure would make life tough for marginal basic cable channels. And it just might be where we’re headed. Stay tuned.