Former FCC Chairman Michael Powell says consumers shouldn’t be “forced” to pay for their local broadcast channels on cable – but he has no problem forcing them to pay for dozens of cable channels they never watch.
Michael Powell was the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from 2001 to 2005, where he had substantial authority in regulating relations between broadcast and cable TV. Powell is now President and CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association – yet another example of a politician leaving government and immediately going to work as a lobbyist for a multi-billion dollar industry he was previously in charge of regulating.
In hiring Powell, the NCTA is definitely getting its money’s worth. During hearings before Congress, Powell said that an FCC regulation which requires cable systems to carry each area’s local TV stations should be abolished. Currently, the requirement is federal law, to ensure that cable subscribers have access to local news, weather, and emergency information. Such local broadcast channels make up the “basic tier” of cable subscriptions.
Powell claims that it is unfair for cable subscribers to pay for their local channels. Powell’s hypocrisy is breathtaking, since as head of the NCTA he has resisted calls for Cable Choice, under which customers could buy their cable channels “a la carte,” and not be forced to pay for dozens of channels they never watch, don’t want, and even find offensive.
According to TV News Check, one Washington communications industry insider said of Powell’s stunning display of hypocrisy, “It’s extraordinary that [Powell] would raise the issue of alleged unfairness of cable program packaging without mentioning the elephant in the room: a la carte. A truly consumer-friendly cable industry would allow customers to pick and choose every channel they want, and not force them to pay for hundreds of channels that few people watch.”
But then, Michael Powell is a highly-paid lapdog of the entertainment industry, not an advocate for its customers. Clearly, in Powell’s mind the interests of the American people take second place to the financial extortion of the media masters holding his leash.