• Cable Industry Showing Cracks on Choice

    by  • May 30, 2013 • Cable Choice • 5 Comments


    For over a decade, the cable industry has maintained a united front on the issue of Cable Choice, determined to preserve the status quo – continuing to charging consumers for “bundles” of networks they never watch and don’t want. But now, some cracks in the alliance are beginning to show.

    In the wake of Senator John McCain’s proposed Television Consumer Freedom Act, which would split up the “bundles” and allow customers to pay for only the channels they want to watch, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association has attempted to rally the entire cable industry to its banner – continuing the current system of forcing subscribers to pay for hundreds of channels they don’t want. In its quest, the NCTA spends almost $20 million a year in lobbying — more than the pharmaceutical or electric industries.

    But with monthly pay-TV bills growing far faster than inflation and costs for TV approaching $100 a month, the industry has fractured. While cable giant Comcast and many other companies cling to the older model,  some companies realize customers are dissatisfied, and are charting their own course. One such company is Charter Communications, the nation’s fourth-largest cable provider. Charter CEO Tom Rutledge called out the pro-bundle companies recently, saying:

    “It is clear that consumers are being forced to purchase content that they don’t want or need. The tying together of networks by programming giants, combined with a lack of consistency in pricing for distributors and a complete lack of transparency surrounding that pricing, creates a no-win situation for consumers, who are forced to purchase large bundles of program content at prices that continue to escalate despite the myriad alternatives enabled by current technology. [It is time to give] consumers more choice in this difficult economic climate. [McCain's] proposed legislation is a logical step in that direction.”

    The PTC has long called for Cable Choice – allowing consumers the right to pay for only that which they use. Senator McCain’s bill is a giant step in the right direction; and we applaud Mr. Rutledge for acknowledging that fact, and being willing to consider the interests of American consumers.



    Christopher Gildemeister is the PTC’s Head of Research Operations. He began as an Entertainment Analyst at the PTC in 2005. From 2007-2016, he was Senior Writer/Editor, responsible for communicating the PTC’s message to the public through newsletters, columns, and the PTC Watchdog blog. Dr. Gildemeister holds a Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.

    5 Responses to Cable Industry Showing Cracks on Choice

    1. Don Rettke
      May 31, 2013 at 4:26 pm

      I am so tired of having to pay increasing cable bills for Verizon when half the channels I get I do not watch, and have to up my service to be able to get some of the channels that I want, but are not offered at lower packages. Verizon is notorious for offering “good deals” for new subscribers, but for us that have been customers for a while, we keep getting prices bumped up, and even some of the services lessened (like dropping Norton Antivirus as free and offering for a fee). I think you should ONLY pay for what you want to watch and if you want more of the premium channels, then you can pay for those. Thank you for what you are doing and what you can do to see that this is accomplished.

    2. Claire
      May 31, 2013 at 10:32 am

      Keep up the good work PTC. You leave us hopeful and expectant for changes like Sen McKain is proposing.SOON. Thank you. CM

    3. Roylene Michels
      May 31, 2013 at 8:42 am

      Please keep up the pressure for customers of cable who would wish to pick their own cable packages rather than paying for the bundles of channels that we don’t ever watch. Thanks.

    4. Debbie
      May 31, 2013 at 6:49 am

      I got rid of cable a couple years back. I bought a Roku box (under $100) and stream Netflix (under$10 per month) to my TV. I have thousands of movies and TV series to choose from whenever i want. I also called and asked if EWTN could be added to the selections and in a few months…there it was! If a movie starts getting smutty, i just stop it and find another one to watch. There are weather stations, news stations any number of free stations and many more for a dollar or two one time payment!!! It is truly the answer to boycotting cable companies!!

    5. Sally Hille
      May 31, 2013 at 6:39 am

      Great news…Where is Charter Communications available.? I am ready to change…Suddenlink keeps going up in price…and has so many channels I do not watch. Actually, lately, I have been watching movies I taped instead of Tv…. I still have to pay a fortune just to hear the news and the few shows I do watch…I hope something is done soon. Thanks…

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