Comments about ‘Jay Evensen: Follow Canada's example; let us pay for the channels we want to watch’

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Published: Thursday, Oct. 24 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Far East USA, SC

Regardless of the argument, in the end, all you have to do is follow the money.

Business will typically get what they want from congress. Why? Easy. Read on.

The TV/Movie/Music industry spends in excess of $100 million yearly lobbying congress. A large percentage of that goes to the Democrats. Yes, the Dems have been bought and paid for in this industry.

Add to that the $30 - $50 million spent yearly on campaign donations and pac money, and yet again, we have purchased congress.

I cannot, for the life of me, understand how anyone would defend corporate and union money.
But, it happens all the time. Even on this board.

What? Do you like it because you think it gives your political side and advantage?

How about we work to give the American people the advantage. Heck with the parties.


Some in Congress have proposed legislation but there are powerful interests on the other side.

"Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) recently introduced legislation that would pressure cable and satellite TV providers to allow their customers to pick and choose the channels they pay for."
(The Hill 5/12/2013)

Citizens in other countries pay less for more.
David Cay Johnston wrote in his book, "The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use 'Plain English' to Rob You Blind:"

"Americans pay four times as much as the French for an Internet triple-play package—phone, cable TV and Internet—at an average of $160 per month versus $38 per month. The French get global free calling and worldwide live television. Their Internet is also 10 times faster at downloading information and 20 times faster uploading it. America has gone from #1 in Internet speed (when we invented it) to 29th in the world and falling. Bulgaria is among the countries with faster Internet service. Americans pay 38 times as much as the Japanese for Internet data."

Eagle Mountain, UT

"It hurts a little to have our neighbors to the north school us in the ways of the free market. It hurts even more when you realize the United States isn’t likely to follow suit."


Wouldn't free market dictate that if there were demand for "a la carte" choices in cable programming it would be provided? I would contend that it simply isn't offered because the demand isn't there. Yes you can find people that do not want these channels, the article points out at least one, but for me, I have used the parental control system provided by my carrier to block out entertainment I do not want my family to participate in.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

The government telling a private (monopolistic) company what to do?

Grab the torches & pitchforks... we must stop this tyranny now!!

Far East USA, SC

"I would contend that it simply isn't offered because the demand isn't there."

How could one possibly come to that conclusion. Based on what?

I have 200 channels. Why not 100? Because 2 channels I want were not offered in the 100 package.
I would be very happy with under 50 channels, if I could pick and choose. And 50 would probably be overkill.

How about a smartphone without a data plan? No demand? Of course there is. Free wi-fi is everywhere. But the Cell companies have chosen to force those with a cell phone (subsidized or not) to purchase a very costly data plan.

It is all about money. And congress goes along, because they are paid to do so.

American Fork, UT

This announcement is part of some suckuppery offered by the Harper government knowing they've got an election coming up and haven't done much for people lately. It's a good idea not because it appeases the parents television council, but because it gives freedom to consumers. It can go either way, you can eliminate what you don't want your kids to see or get what you don't want your kids to see, if that's what you want. Unfortunately, it remains to be seen if the canadian cable companies will push back and this whole thing will never actually come to fruition, or be watered down, because the industry has so much clout.

Columbus, OH

Planet Money actually did a whole program on this issue not to long ago. They had their economists follow the money, and the conclusion they came to, is that most people, if they only chose their top 4-5 channels, would end up paying about what they do now, but would only have those channels. Some see that as a plus, but economically, right now you get more for your money.

As an alternative, what I would like to see is maybe more targeted bundles. You can still bundle, but maybe make 4-5 basic cable bundles that better reflect the general type of consumer. For example, a sports-oriented bundle could drop E! Lifetime, etc, but would still have plenty of stations (maybe 50)

Provo, UT

Fully agree Jay and DNews. I don't agree with McCain on some key policies that affect our lives in more important ways but he is absolutely right on this one. We need to be able to pay for only the channels we want.

West Jordan, UT

I have it on good authority that Direct TV is actually moving in this direction. As some others have alluded to already, this change should motivated by the free-market. I don't think we need a government mandate to make the cable/satellite companies do this.

Netflix is already making some gains in this area (as are some other outlets) and they're proving that people's viewing habits are changing. And as more and more Americans cut their subscriptions, these companies are going to have to respond. Those hoping to capitalize the most will do it quickly. Once upon a time, the technology didn't exist to allow viewers to pick which specific channels they wanted. Today, making that a reality is certainly feasible, but it's going to take more consumers demanding it (not the government) to make it happen.

Brigham City, UT

From the article: "Without cable bundles, a lot of little specialty channels would disappear, right?"

It seems that many of them "disappear" anyway, insofar as after a while they abandon their original concept, only to become yet another unwatchable outlet for "reality" TV, indistinguishable from any other.

Moab, UT

With two dish companies, there is no monopoly on TV broadcasting. More Govt. intervention would only make matters worse and more expensive.

Johnny Triumph
American Fork, UT

Consumers are misguided by thinking that dividing the number of channels into how much they pay will yield what they'd pay a la carte, it just won't happen that way. ESPN is much more expensive to buy than the Military channel and that cost would just get passed on to the consumer. BUT, it would seem that the tv distribution companies would actually want a la carte pricing since it could add up to more in the end. If a consumer starts picking channels and the price is somewhat cheap then he/she will just keep adding channels. Kind of like going to the dollar store and coming out with $50 in stuff, I feel like I'm getting more for my money when I leave the store with 50 things...even though maybe I just went into the store for 6 things.

Daniel Leifker
San Francisco, CA

I'm a libertarian, and even I see a role for government in these types of situations.

Imagine how loudly you would scream if you went to the grocery store and couldn't buy a single apple. Instead, the grocery store bundled all kinds of fruits and vegetables into large packages for $10 or $15 each, and you had to buy an entire bundle just to get one apple.

Cable and satellite companies bundle channels for the same reason that fast food restaurants bundle their junk food into meals: to make is hard or impossible for the consumer to buy less of something.

A few months ago I realized that satellite TV was total junk. It was almost one-third commercials, and all the rest was a sewer. I cut the cord completely, and (as I have commented elsewhere) the only real difference it made in my life is that I now have an extra 3 or 4 hours of free time every day.

Cut the cord. Your cable or satellite company will come back with tons of offers and discounts to get you to stay. Free money. But I left anyway.


There is little competition in the way cable television is offered.

Why do we have just a handful of cable companies owning the network in the U.S.? If cable companies had to go through a bidding process perhaps there would be some incentive to provide decent service at lower rates.

If the system were changed to cafeteria style-- or a tiered system where one could select a certain number of channels for a flat rate, it would increase the competition, wouldn't it?

Murray, UT

@JoeBlow - Let's not try to lame blame entirely on the Democrats here. I have not seen any major Republicans, except for McCain, even consider drafting legislation for a la care tv. The media companies pay off both parties, its not a Republican v Democrat issue. Lobbyists pay off both sides, typically one side receives slightly more funding than the other, they have to hedge their influence.

Sasha Pachev
Provo, UT

I'd say the fault is our own. We do not dislike the bundle option enough to say "If that is all you have to offer, we take nothing!" It would be difficult to do things like that with food and utilities, but you can definitely do it with TV.


I just made a lot of money this year on NETFLIX stock, which tripled. No reasons to wonder why. Its obvious. I canceled cable and went with NETFLIX a while back.

Salt Lake City, UT

I've also cut the cable cord. We use Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime - I save tons of money, and probably don't need all three streaming services I have. We have a free market - no one's forcing anyone to buy cable services. How about letting the market adjust to lower cable subscribers as more people continue to cut the cable cord. The cable companies will have to innovate, such as offering a la carte channels, or just adjust to a lower # of subscribers and lower revenues. THAT's the free market working.

Star Bright
Salt Lake City, Ut

So to whom do I complain? I've written the CEO of Comcast and never heard a word back. I don't want mtv, Aljazeera, and most of the others, but I can't find anyone who offers what I want. I am considering getting rid of cable. And as things get worse it will be the first thing to go.

Ronnie W.
Layton, UT


You are exactly right. If all the consumers started leaving because of the lack of options, the cable companies will callibrate. But no one is forcing you to pay for anything. You make the choice. If you let 40 channels of smut and worthlessness into your home because of your "favorite show" or "sporting event" that's on you. And in larger measure, you are really part of the problem.

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