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NCTA Slams a la Carte

A la carte cable would raise prices and not lower them, decrease diversity for most subscribers and violate the First Amendment in the bargain.

The first two on that list were among the conclusions of a Booz Allen study commissioned by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. The study found that under a government-mandated a la carte system--in which subscribers could create their own ad hoc lineups--the price of service would go up by as much as 15% even if nobody opted for the a la carte option.

The First Amendment problem was the conclusion of a pair of legal experts at the University of Chicago in a separate analysis.

They argue that to survive the relevant First Amendment scrutiny, must advance "an important government interest without imposing an undue burden...the reasons for a la carte regulation--supposedly lower rates and more choice--are not sufficient to justify the substantial [speech] burdens they impose.

All those findings are part of NCTA's filing with the FCC on the feasibility of a la carte and themed programming.

Primarily at the prompting of cable critic John McCain (R-Ariz.), the FCC is seeking comment for a report it plans to issue in the fall.