[opendtv] RCN offers to test a la carte pricing;Cable firm relents following Senate decency hearings - 12/14/2005 10:59:00 AM - CED - CA6291550

  • From: Mark Aitken <maitken@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: OpenDTV <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 14 Dec 2005 15:09:28 -0500

  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
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."


><>   ><>   ><>   ><>   ><>   ><>   ><>

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

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 ~ ~ ~


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  • » [opendtv] RCN offers to test a la carte pricing;Cable firm relents following Senate decency hearings - 12/14/2005 10:59:00 AM - CED - CA6291550