Dolan Warns: Beware A La Carte

Cablevision Systems
CEO James Dolan warned cable
executives at an industry
conference last Thursday that
the mixture of rising programming
costs, high unemployment
and a slumping economy
could result in a la carte being
forced on the industry.

Speaking at the Bank of
America Merrill Lynch Media,
Communications & Entertainment
conference in Newport
Beach, Calif., Dolan said networks
pushing huge rate increases
at the same time that
unemployment rates are at an
all-time high could lead to consumer

“At some point you reach a
point where the consumer rebels,”
Dolan said. “You’re likely to
see that in a reaction in Washington
on the government side
because it will become a politically
easy issue for politicians to
jump on and a la carte is an obvious
answer. But the impact of
a la carte on the programming
industry would be devastating.
It behooves all the participants
to exercise restraint.”

Cablevision chief operating
officer Tom Rutledge noted
that the MSO has had some
high-profile carriage fights with
programmers — most recently
with ABC and Scripps Networks
— but has managed to
negotiate favorable deals without
losing customers.

“We’ve fought hard to not
pay exorbitant rates and we’ve
brought our customers into the
fights with us,” Rutledge said.
“We were involved in highprofile
fights and we actually
grew customers during those