Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

A Positive Spin on Higher Cable TV Prices

By Dennis D. McDonald

In Fox-Time Warner Cable deal could mean billions for broadcasters, Bloomberg News’ Kelly Riddell wrote the following on January 4, 2010:

Time Warner Cable’s agreement to pay News Corp. for over-the-air television programming has opened the door for broadcasters to demand as much as $5 billion a year from pay-TV providers and their subscribers, analysts said.

The companies agreed on a distribution deal Jan. 1, without disclosing the terms. Other broadcasters have also said they may seek payment for programming that’s currently free. CBS has a deal with Comcast, the largest U.S. cable operator, that ends next year, and already collects fees from Time Warner Cable and Dish Network.

As much as I hate paying more for cable TV programming, I think that the golden egg of this pricing goose will be to place more pressure on cable TV companies to start offering a la carte pricing.

I don’t care about programs like “NCIS,” “Sunday Night Football” and “Desperate Housewives.” Why should I have to pay more to my cable company for the right to receive them? And if by paying for such programming I am in fact subsidizing other less commercial channels, why not give me the option to chhose whether I want to offer such subsidies in the first place?

Paying more for programming I don’t watch makes as much sense to me as the way I currently have to pay for mutliple non-English, shopping, and sports channels.

Will this coming price rise for basic programming be the final straw that forces a major overhaul of tiered cable TV pricing schemes? I hope so.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to rent DVDs, I’ll stream programming from Netflix via X Box Live, I’ll go out to movies more often — and I’ll continue to read books.

Copyright (c) 2010 by Dennis D. McDonald.

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