FCC Interested in Lowering Your Cable Prices

    August 21, 2008
    Chris Crum

Things have been looking up for Hulu and online video in general for a variety of reasons. News has come out today emphasizing this fact even more. ABC News is reporting that the FCC thinks that cable television providers are charging too much for access. I couldn’t agree more.

FCC Chairman, Kevin Martin
FCC Chairman, Kevin Martin

"The average family has very little choice as to what channels are included, yet they’re having to pay more and more for those same channels," said FCC chairman Kevin Martin.

Martin and the FCC are apparently in favor of a model where consumers would pay for service on a per channel basis. For example, if I wanted to only purchase ESPN, CNN, and Comedy Central and forget about all of the other ones, I could do so.

That’s funny. I had this same idea not too long ago. The cable companies say that if such a model would come to fruition, the overall rates would be driven up because the channels that nobody wanted to pay for would be forced to charge more to its advertisers.

This almost seems to be an admission to a lack of quality programming, something that I can completely concur with. If you aren’t a fan of reality television or crime dramas, it is hard to justify paying the monthly fee that the cable companies want to charge. Add all of the perks like digital cable, DVR, premium channels, and HD versions of channels you already get, and the bill starts to look pretty absurd. This is especially true if your cable provider is also your ISP.

The whole thing makes sites like Hulu and online video in general all the more appealing. People can watch what they want to on demand and for free, with even less commercials than on television.

As recent statistics from Nielsen show, online video usage is growing rapidly. Cable companies are likely going to have to adjust their current models to some extent if they want to keep their TV customers. The biggest thing they have going for them right now is HD, and everybody’s fascination with it. That is where online video falls short…for now.

It’s a good thing for most cable companies that they also happen to be Internet service providers.