Comcast sues Maine to stop law requiring sale of individual TV channels

Discussion in 'Cable TV Discussion' started by Mark Holtz, Sep 10, 2019.

  1. Mark Holtz

    Mark Holtz Day Sleeper

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    Richardson,...
    From Ars Technica:

    Comcast sues Maine to stop law requiring sale of individual TV channels
    Industry suit says Maine law violates First Amendment and Communications Act.
    FULL ARTICLE HERE
     
  2. Athlon646464

    Athlon646464 Yada Yada Yada DBSTalk Gold Club

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    Things that make you go 'hmmm'. For sure...
     
  3. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    Telling cable companies that they must sell a la carte violates the right to free speech? I didn't know the tier system was "speech". :D

    There are some federal laws that preempt what the state can do. Federal law requires local channels to be in the base package on cable systems ... so they can't be part of an a la carte system. (Satellite is not required to offer local channels - or to offer them at any particular level - as long as all locals are offered as a group. No selling a local ABC affiliate separate from a local NBC affiliate or splitting off other local stations. One either gets all carried locals or none.) Federal law does not prohibit or require a la carte. Which leaves it up to the states.
     
  4. SamC

    SamC Hall Of Fame

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    First Amendment, no.

    Communications Act. Certainly. It totally pre-empts state regulation in this area.

    And, since a la carte is the most anti-consumer idea ever, good for Comcast, et al.
     
  5. CTJon

    CTJon Godfather

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    I really don't want a la carte - since I expect I would actually spend the same if not more plus I'm sure if I wanted to add one channel the incremental charge would be high.
     
  6. Mark Holtz

    Mark Holtz Day Sleeper

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    Richardson,...
    It wouldn't be that much of an i$$ue if the per-$ub$criber price wa$ fairly low. The $ore $pot for me i$ the $port$ channel$ like E$PN and the Regional $port$ Network$. Out$ide of the premium channel$, the $port$ channel$ are the mo$t expen$ive channel$ on a per $ub$criber ba$i$, and unle$$ you $ub$cribe to the mo$t ba$ic package, you pay for tho$e $port$ channel$ whether you watch them or not. The $ame with the political bia$e$ for the $o-called "new$" channel$.

    The only solution that I could see out of this message was to stop playing and paying entirely.
     
  7. SamC

    SamC Hall Of Fame

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    You make a fundamental mistake that most supporters of the really bad idea of a la carte make. You assume that the channels would exist for you to buy in the first place.

    They would not. Two things would happen.

    First, lets make up a fake channel, in order to avoid getting OT with "but I like... channel". Say there is a bird owners channel. And it is in the base package. So everyone is paying a fraction of a cent for it. The tiny niche that actually watches it, the 99.99% that do not. Under ALC, only the 0.1% that wants it, pays. And the cost of producing the channel is the same. So it is like $20/month, just for the one channel. Which no one can afford, so it ceases to exist.

    Second, because the remaining channels want to survive, they are going to try to mix up their programming. No more niche of a niche of a niche narrowcasting. Broad channels with something fo everyone, so you pay. Think USA Network, circa 1985. ALC means 20 to 30 channels, available. Max.

    No thank you.
     
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  8. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    I believe the point was that people wouldn't be asking for a la carte if the total price was low. I'd need a better definition of low. People were asking for a la carte when the prices were much lower than they are today.
     
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  9. Mark Holtz

    Mark Holtz Day Sleeper

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    Richardson,...
    Except that the cost of producing the channel isn't the same. The cost of producing original material is always going to be more than purchasing already-produced material. The rights costs for acquiring more recent material is going to be more expensive than material that was produced in the 1950s-1970s.

    Do I serious believe that I will be able to pick and choose individual channels? Not really. My expectation is that if I want MTV, I will also have to pay for VH1, plus the associated MTV/VH1 sub-channels as part of a "Viacom music pack".
     
  10. SamC

    SamC Hall Of Fame

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    Do what? The costs of producing a channel with a particular channel is EXACTLY the same, whatever the content, regardless of the number of viewers or subscribers.

    Lets make an analogy to a movie theatre to understand. Say it is going to show the latest comic book mega blockbuster. The cost to produce it is $X. No mater if one person is there, or the place is full. Your response is "well, they could show a rerun of 1950s B&W western is irrelevant.
     
  11. inkahauts

    inkahauts Well-Known Member

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    I’m sorry... did everyone miss the best part where they also have to offer each individual program assuredly across every channel a la cart as well? Get real... that’s just dumb.
     
  12. Mark Holtz

    Mark Holtz Day Sleeper

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    Richardson,...
    Unfortunately, I have friends who have been in television production and at the television station level. The cost of television production is not equal. Similarly, the costs of acquiring program rights is not equal. The rights to The Big Bang Theory, including the residual rights for repeats, costs more than the rights to The Golden Girls.

    Again, you don't understand theater economics.... or why the price of concessions is so high. The movie distributors can dictate the terms of how the movie can be shown in the theater, including the minimum two-week commitment that is part of the contract to show that movie in the theater. At the beginning of the film's run, the percentage of the ticket cost that goes to the distributor is a higher percentage than later in the run. For the latest "comic book mega blockbuster", that percentage is extremely high. Because of that, the theaters have to make it up in the overpriced concessions.

    Not convinced? The number one film for 2019 is Avengers: Endgame. The total US gross of that film is $858,373,000. 41.6% of that gross, $357,115,007, is from the opening weekend, where it was shown in 4,662 theaters. By the second weekend, it achieved 72.3% of that gross, again in 4,662 theaters. Now, try and convince me that Disney/Marvel didn't have the theater owners over a barrel, including which theaters the movie gets shown in and what percentage Disney gets of the gross.
     
  13. SamC

    SamC Hall Of Fame

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    True, and irrelevant. Of course reruns of show X are less than reruns of show Y. And? This is irrelevant to understanding just how bad for the consumer ALC would be.

    The cost of producing Channel Whatever, with a certain programming mix, is a fixed number. Whether, as today, the cost is spread among millions of subscribers paying fractions of a cent via a package; or under ALC where only the super fans of that particular micro-niche must pay, which would mean the channel costs many $$, which means most simply go out of business.

    Arguing that “well, you could just change the programming to something cheaper” misses the point entirely.
     
  14. joshjr

    joshjr Hall Of Fame

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    I guess I just dont agree that it makes that much difference. If ESPN goes Al a carte and 10 million people drop ESPN then they are not just going to eat the declining income. They are going to raise the price of the channel. The point to all this is we would all lose channels that we like that are not popular enough to stay in business and the ones we do like would go up in price so in the end, I doubt most peoples bill would be much different in price just they would have only they channels they want. How would a brand new channel ever come to market? Its just not a sustainable market. The only upside to it is the customers seeing how greedy these channel owners are. They would get fed up quicker if every few years they saw that CBS wanted $2 more. It adds up especially when every channel wants more money every time.
     
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