ACA’s Gessner Laments Video Costs

Washington — American Cable Association board chairman Bob Gessner said he is not sure standalone cable TV service can remain profitable given “incredibly high” content costs.

Gessner, president of MCTV, with about 47,000 customers in Massillon, Ohio, told C-SPAN’s The Communicators series that basic cable TV service, with about 100 channels, costs a subscriber about $85 per month — exclusive of the set-top cost — while the cost of the content alone is about $56. That leaves “a pretty small portion” to cover electricity, trucks, people, gas, benefits, wages and other operating costs.

“If I were trying to operate a system just with cable television service, it would be pretty hard to do,” Gessner said. The future is “absolutely the Internet,” he said, so his company is building a Gigabit fiber overlay that will cost millions of dollar and take years.

The ACA last week complained about marketplace distortions in comments for the FCC’s inquiry into independent content providers’ access to distribution platforms.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.