RCN offers to test a la carte pricing; Cable firm relents following Senate decency hearings December 14, 2005 Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company The Boston Globe December 14, 2005 Wednesday THIRD EDITION By Keith Reed, Globe Staff From LexisNexis RCN Corp., a cable company with subscribers in Massachusetts, yesterday offered to test a pricing plan that would give subscribers greater flexibility to choose the channels they want, another sign that the cable industry's decades-long united front against a la carte pricing may be crumbling. Responding to a week of hearings in the Senate over decency standards in cable programming, RCN chief executive Peter D. Aquino said yesterday that he supported Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin's view that cable companies should voluntarily adopt more "family-friendly" programming options. He endorsed the idea of selling channels by theme as a way to achieve that goal. Martin and some legislators have indicated they would seek to impose controls on cable programs, including legislation that would impose a la carte pricing, if the industry does not limit access to programs filled with sex and violence on their systems. "RCN believes that themed-tier a la carte would allow cable operators to offer consumers smaller programming tiers, limited to the kind or categories of programming they most value," Aquino said in a statement the company issued yesterday afternoon. His comments could mean that a la carte pricing would become an option for local subscribers. RCN has more than 70,000 subscribers in Massachusetts, according to data from the state Department of Telecommunications and Energy. The cable industry has long rejected a la carte letting subscribers choose channels instead of prepackaged lineups arguing that that model would make programming more expensive and limit consumers' choices. But that stance weakened last week when Charles Dolan, chairman of Cablevision, the country's fifth-largest cable company, said in a Senate hearing that a la carte was a viable option for the industry. Also forcing the cable industry's hand is looming competition from phone companies like Verizon Communications Inc., which plans to launch a fiber-optic based television service in Massachusetts next year and has said it supports a la carte pricing. Aquino stopped short of endorsing a total a la carte model, instead saying that RCN would like to test selling themed tiers of programming, such as family channels in one grouping and sports in another, as soon as it could. A spokeswoman for the company said last night that no dates for a potential trial had been set. Bruce Leichtman, president of telecommunications research firm Leichtman Research Group in Durham, N.H., said he is not convinced a la carte will be a reality in the near future. "Can it physically be done? Yes it can. Will it? No way," he said. "Certainly there's a segment that wants less and to pay less for it, but a la carte is not going to lower rates, so what we might see is some family-friendly tiers." http://www.cedmagazine.com/article/CA6291550.html -- ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> Regards, Mark A. Aitken Director, Advanced Technology <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< =================================== Sinclair Broadcast Group 10706 Beaver Dam Road Hunt Valley, MD 21030 Business TEL: (410) 568-1535 Business MOBILE: (443) 677-4425 Business FAX: (410) 568-1580 E-mail: maitken@xxxxxxxxxx Text PAGE: page.maitken@xxxxxxxxxx HTML PAGE: 4436774425@xxxxxxxxxx www.newscentral.tv www.sbgi.net =================================== If mankind were to resolve to agree in no institution of government, until every part of it had been adjusted to the most exact standard of perfection, society would soon become a general scene of anarchy, and the world a desert. ~ ~ ~ Alexander Hamilton ~ ~ ~ =================================== CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This email message and any files transmitted with it contain confidential information intended only for the person(s) to whom this email message is addressed. If you have received this email message in error, please notify the sender immediately by telephone or email and destroy the original message without making a copy. Thank you. *********************************** ---------------------------------------------------------------------- You can UNSUBSCRIBE from the OpenDTV list in two ways: - Using the UNSUBSCRIBE command in your user configuration settings at FreeLists.org - By sending a message to: opendtv-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word unsubscribe in the subject line.