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Cable Indies Oppose a la Carte

Independent cable networks are breathing a sigh of relief.

An amendment to an indecency enforcement bill was voted down in the Senate Commerce Committee today that would have allowed subscribers to create their own mix-and-match cable lineups. Another similar amendment was never introduced.

Some legislators believe that giving subscribers the ability to select their channels is one way for viewers and the industry to self-regulate cable indecency, which is currently beyond the purview of the FCC. Independent cable networks disagree, arguing that they could be mixed and unmatched out of existence.

A group of about a dozen such nets, including A&E, Hallmark, Oygen, The Weather Channel, Ovation, and The Game Show Network, sent a letter to Commerce Committee members arguing that to mandate a-la-carte tiering would work against the interests of children by reducing those channels' carriage, thus undermining the dual revenue stream model that allows them to provide family friendly shows. "Government-mandated packaging in the form of a-la-carte or specialized tiers would significantly harm our business, reduce program diversity and consumer choice and likely increase consumer cable prices," they said.