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FCC asked to report on letting consumers pick cable channels

Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Susan Herold, CU, 202-462-6262

Consumers Union Praises Bipartisan Effort to Promote Choice in Cable Channels
Statement of Gene Kimmelman, Senior Director for Advocacy and Public Policy

(Washington, DC) – A bipartisan group of members from the House Commerce Committee today requested a report from the Federal Communications Commission regarding the potential benefits of cable and satellite “a la carte” channel selection, which would let consumers pick and pay only for the channels they want.
The letter was led by Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA), and included Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX), as well as Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI), John Dingell (D-MI), and Edward Markey (D-MA). It requested that the FCC report its findings back to Congress by Nov. 24, 2004. To read a copy of the letter Click here.
“The cable industry will no longer be able to hide behind Chicken Little predictions now that Congressional leaders from both parties have requested that the Federal Communications Commission (conduct a rapid factual study of how allowing consumers to pick their own cable channels could work in the cable and satellite marketplace,” Kimmelman said.
“We are pleased that Congress has listened to the overwhelming public outcry against cable rate increases and requirements that consumers purchase channels they do not want or that they find objectionable. We are confident that once the FCC looks past industry innuendo and unsubstantiated assertions to find the real facts about the benefits of allowing consumers to select and pay for their own channels, cable and satellite carriers will no longer be able to resist public pressure to offer such options,” he added.
“As Congress now considers rewriting the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the FCC’s report will help frame the discussion of what legislative changes are necessary to enable consumers to receive the programming they desire at a reasonable price.
“We are confident that the facts will demonstrate the benefits of ‘a la carte’ channel selection — one need only look to Canada where this kind of program selection is already available to consumers — to understand how consumers have more choice, better prices, and more diverse programming with ‘a la carte’ options,” Kimmelman said.