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Sachs Tells Cable to Improve Pitch

National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Robert Sachs told cable executives they need to do a better job of making the case to Washington and consumers that they are getting additional  value and programming for their dollar.

"We have to be sensitive to concerns about cable prices," he advised.

One way to hold down those prices would be a la carte pricing, some in Washington have argued. Sachs strongly disagrees. "A la carte pricing would have a devastating impact on ad-supported program networks that depend upon wide distribution," he told the opening session at the NCTA convention in New Orleans Monday.

Another argument for allowing subscribers to choose from a buffet of channels is to give them the power to exclude some channels they would rather not have coming into their home. That, say some lawmakers, is one way to stem indecency on cable.

Sachs recognized the concern and told operators they must address those content-related issues as well. "We must also be mindful of the fact that not all programs are suitable for general family viewing.  Ever since the Super Bowl halftime debacle, federal policy makers have been focused on issues concerning indecency and excessive violence in the media."

Again, he said the answer was education. "I am proud our industry responded swiftly by offering free channel blocking equipment to consumers and informing them about tools to protect children from inappropriate programming. Our follow-through will be just as critical."