Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Cable Bundles A Thing of the Past?

For those of you who watch a lot of cable television, this news should be of interest to you. Somebody in congress has come up with a bill that would prevent cable companies from making it mandatory for customers to buy cable channels in bundles. In other words, the idea of the bill is to allow customers to buy only the channels they want.

At first glance, this seems like a great idea, doesn’t it? I mean, how cool would it be to buy only the channels you really use, so you can get rid of festering crap like MTV, BET, Fox News, CNBC, MSNBC, CSPAN, PAX, Lifetime, Oxygen, and other channels like this, and only pay for the good ones.

Who wouldn’t like to see less Disney and Nickelodeon channels? Wouldn’t it be great to see smaller numbers of political news channels? Or not so many “golden oldies” TV channels – I’m really getting sick of channels calling the Cosby Show, Golden Girls, and the Jeffersons as classics.

However, I smell a rat. When bundled, each channel probably costs an average of 50 cents (or something like that). However, unbundled, some stations may jack up their costs – like ESPN and the Comedy Channel (two channels I love). I can see this ending up in us having to pay more for the TV we want to see. The cable companies probably secretly love this.

Additionally, channels that still provide us with creative and thought-provoking television may be left for dead, and will simply go away. Channels like the History Channel, Bravo, A&E, Discovery Channel (and channels of this ilk) will probably become a thing of the past. The few channels that are left over will probably be bought out by super-corporations, who will market to the lowest common denominators – ensuring that we HAVE to watch thought-siphoning programming like Fear Factor, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Yes Dear forever.


Jeff said...

I, for one, am glad that we've defeated the terrorists, dealt with Kim Jong-Il and the Iranians, and freed China -- so that Congress can get to pressing matters like this (and Specter's hearings on T.O.).

Better idea: provide competition (not allowed in my area), and I will decide which company I want to deal with. And if one of them lets me bundle my own cable package, that's my choice.

Also wondering: would this bill allow taxpayers to opt of paying for NPR and PBS? I thought so ...

Rev. Smokin Steve said...

Interesting thoughts all of these.

I could totally see a channel like ESPN going up to $15 a month, and a channel like Oxygen being around $3 a month as a result. It would drive certain prices through the roof.

Then again, maybe ESPN could lower their price, get more subscribers that way, and then charge the advertisers higher rates instead. We might see an extra commercial or two an hour from them as a result, but getting a higher subscriber base can justify higher ad costs to the companies with the real money.

Or, they could charge everybody more money, and make out like the oil companies do.

Interesting scenarios, all of them possible.

But remember, just because you think CNBC and MSNBC suck, doesn't mean all of us think that way.