The Edmond Sun

Features

May 16, 2013

What if you could pay for cable channels a la carté?

WASHINGTON — It's time to let television viewers buy individual channels, rather than being required to pay for bundles of programming, Sen. John McCain told a Senate panel Tuesday.

"Consumers shouldn't have to pay for television channels they don't watch, and have no interest in watching," said McCain, R-Ariz., who has introduced legislation to force cable and direct-broadcast satellite companies to offer channels individually, or a la carte.

Cable rates have attracted congressional scrutiny before Tuesday's hearing at the communications subcommittee led by Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark. The market isn't working for consumers who are paying more for TV service, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the West Virginia Democrat who is chairman of the Commerce Committee that houses the subcommittee, said at a July hearing.

Consumers Union, an advocacy group based in Yonkers, New York that works for fair markets, has endorsed McCain's bill.

"Cable customers have to buy larger and larger packages of channels," Delara Derakhshani, policy counsel, said in an emailed statement.

The average cable bill for expanded basic service - the most popular channels package - increased 6.1 percent annually from 1995 through 2011, rising from $22.25 to $57.46, the Federal Communications Commission said in a report last year. The number of channels in such a package rose to 124, from 44, the FCC said. The price per channel dropped three cents, to 57 cents, the agency said.

Consumers are watching more TV each year, and "the value of cable's video service continues to be the best of any form of entertainment at just 23 cents per viewing hour," Brian Dietz, a spokesman for the Washington-based National Cable & Telecommunications Association trade group, or NCTA, said in an email.

McCain's bill would deny licensing privileges to pay-TV companies that don't offer programming for purchase separately, and would keep broadcasters from demanding retransmission fees if they don't let their channels be sold a la carte.

The measure also would require non-broadcasters such as Viacom Inc. to offer programming individually to pay-TV companies. In addition, it would revoke an airwaves license from a broadcaster that doesn't send an over-the-air signal identical to the signal sent through pay-TV companies.

CBS and Fox have said they may go off the air if courts don't block Barry Diller's Aereo Inc., which accesses broadcast TV signals and resells them online for $8 to $12 a month - without paying a retransmission fee.

No hearing date has been set for the bill, and no votes have been taken.

It's unlikely the bill will pass, "but it is still relatively early" in the congressional session that runs through next year, Paul Gallant, Washington-based managing director at Guggenheim Securities, said in a note yesterday. McCain doesn't sit on the Commerce Committee that handles TV legislation and it's not clear if Rockefeller will push the issue, Gallant said.

McCain, the Republican Party's presidential nominee in 2008, can bring attention to the issue, Gallant said.

Cable and broadcast groups in testimony submitted to Pryor's committee said changes aren't needed.

"The system is not broken" and changing laws that govern programming distribution "is not in the public's best interest," Gordon Smith, president of the National Association of Broadcasters, said in testimony submitted to the panel. Members of the Washington-based trade group include Walt Disney Co.'s ABC, News Corp.'s Fox, Comcast Corp.'s NBC and CBS Corp.

Lawmakers generally don't need to intervene in the marketplace, which is competitive, Michael Powell, NCTA president, said in written testimony for the subcommittee. Members of the Washington-based trade group include largest U.S. cable company Comcast, based in Philadelphia, and New York-based Time Warner Cable Inc., the second-largest.

 

1
Text Only
Features
  • Authorities update Simpson’s saga

    Investigators are attempting to locate the owner of a dog named Simpson to determine whether or not his injuries were due to an accident or man-made, an official said.
    On July 1, the Logan County Sheriff’s Office investigated reports of an injured dog near the intersection of Western and Simpson in south Logan County, Lt. Tom Kutay said. Officers responded and took several statements of a dog being found with injures to its back, Kutay said.

    July 22, 2014

  • Whataburger celebrates children’s superhero spirit with ‘Super-Duper’ event

    It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a Super Duper Celebration! In the heart of every child lives a superhero and on Thursday Whataburger restaurants will celebrate the superhero spirit in all of us with an evening of family fun from 5-7 p.m. at its location at 421 S. Broadway.
    Customers can spend quality time with their little heroes and treat them to a superhero-themed celebration of food, activities and giveaways. Children 12 and under dressed in a superhero costume will receive a free kid’s meal. There will be a Whataburger photo booth and Whataburger’s mascot, Whataguy, will also be present to join the fun.

    July 22, 2014

  • Shopping smarter for family necessities can help the environment

    There’s a growing trend among consumers to make choices reflecting the goals and values that matter to them most.  In fact, two out of five people say they’re more inspired to try a natural product that does something good for themselves, their family and the planet, according to a recent study conducted by Toluna for natural products brand Tom’s of Maine.

    July 21, 2014

  • Back to school lunch Build a better bag

    Brown bag lunches and back to school go hand in hand. As you’re gearing up for the start of a new school year, it’s the perfect time to stock the pantry with healthy sack lunch options and after school snacks, too.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pets

    This is a list of animals that have been found and are at the Edmond Animal Shelter, at Interstate 35 and Covell in the Cross Timbers Municipal Complex. Call the shelter at 216-7615 for more information.

    July 21, 2014

  • Kids Cook Simple ways canned foods get children cooking

    When it comes to teaching children about healthy eating habits, there’s no better classroom than the kitchen.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Garden Vegetable Spring Rolls The Canebrake offers summer recipe for Garden Vegetable Spring Rolls

    The Canebrake, a destination hotel and spa in Wagoner, is offering the following recipe from its restaurant for Garden Vegetable Spring Rolls with Avocado Wasabi Puree.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Malaysians wonder 'Why us?' after second loss of airline jet

    It was all too familiar. Grieving families rushing to airport. The flashing television graphics of a plane's last radar appearance. The uncomfortable officials before a heavy thicket of microphones.
    For many Malaysians, the disappearance of Flight 370 in March has been a long trauma from which the nation has not yet recovered.

    July 21, 2014

  • Quilt Edmond Quilt Guild celebrates 10th anniversary with event

    Quilting has evolved over the years and now, more than ever it is looked at as an art form.
    Edmond’s Quilt Guild is sponsoring its fourth quilt show and festival celebrating its 10th anniversary at the same time this week and inviting area residents to come and check out some of the newest types of quilting.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ryan by horse statue.jpg Good Samaritan who lost his leg ‘Keeps Moving Forward’

    He is an uncommon hero, this Good Samaritan who saved another man’s life and in doing so lost his left leg. Now his friends and family are reaching out to help him.
    While assisting a stranded motorist on Nov. 9, 2011, Edmond resident and Santa Fe High School graduate Tyler Ryan was hit and pinned against the back bumper of a car by an inattentive motorist on 15th Street in front of Crest Supermarket.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo