It's Real Money
You should be able to choose and pay only for the cable channels you watch. Not a sports fan? Why should you have to pay over $80 per year for ESPN, ESPN2 and one -- or often more -- regional sports networks? Offended by Comedy Central, MTV, E! and SPIKE? Why should you have to fork over $30 per year for programming you can't abide?
But, as you know, you can't choose your cable channels. You have to buy them in expensive "packages", "bundles," or "tiers." And, the way the cable companies and programmers run the game, you often need to buy more than one tier – more than just "expanded basic" – to get what you really want. That explains why the average US cable bill now tops $50!
Bottom-line: getting what you want means buying a whole bunch of what you don't want.
Why? Large cable companies and big programmers have engineered a cozy and wildly profitable relationship to keep bills up and profits fat. It's a backroom racket unburdened by the votes of mere consumers. Read Understanding the Racket.
Who's On First?
To be sure, big cable companies and mega-programmers keep their shell game strictly undercover. As one reporter recently put it, they "have polished their Who's-on-First routine to perfection." Big cable companies love to "blame" programmers for cost increases, and, in true hot potato fashion, programmers love to "blame" greedy actors and athletes.
Ask a cable company why they can't sell you the networks you want on an à la carte basis and they'll say because the networks won't let them or that the à la carte rates are so high it just wouldn't work.
Ask a network the same question and they'll essentially tell you that without old ladies helping pay for ESPN, pious folks paying for Comedy Central, and the childless paying for Nickelodeon their ability to produce quality programming is utterly laid to waste, destroyed, kaput.
Both big cable companies and networks then quickly add that networks serving niche audiences – and, in particular, minority communities – would vanish in a world of consumer choice widening the "digital divide" and leaving millions of already disadvantaged Americans out of touch and hopelessly behind.
What poppycock. It's the worst kind of hypocrisy. It is an elite group of über-affluent executives hiding behind the human shield of "niche audiences" to preserve and augment the rapacious margins they gleefully extract from a non-competitive industry. They all love, cherish and protect a system that regularly delivers price increases outpacing inflation by 3X. Über-yuck!
Choice Benefits Everyone
Human beings of all races, creeds and religions deserve and benefit from choice. When has choice ever failed us? America's track record of tolerance and racial harmony is hardly the best. But, even in times of great oppression, America's minority communities have most often found a voice. To argue that anti-market forces should be allowed to persist so that minority communities can have a voice not only ignores a proud and robust history of minority media, but also deprives minority communities of the chance to vote for -- by spending their hard-earned dollars on -- the kind of media they most desire.
Time and time again we have seen the consumer-led marketplace reshape and reform industries for the better. Why is cable television any different? Are their fat margins a birthright? Or, might programming be produced and distributed more efficiently? The anti-market whines of big cable companies and mega-programmers are unseemly and flat un-American.
Help us tell your cable company, the mega-programmers, your elected representatives and the courts How Cable Should Be. Cable exposed to the choice of consumers will be different than cable today. It will be far better! Click to pick your networks.