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Cablevision CEO: Higher fees could lead to a la carte pricing

Fri, 09/17/2010 - 8:25am
Mike Robuck

Speaking at an investor conference in California, Cablevision Chief Executive James Dolan said that if network programmers continue to push for higher retransmission fees, the cable industry could be forced into a la carte pricing.

Former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin was enamored with a la carte pricing, which allows customers to pay for just the networks they watch, but Dolan said a la carte pricing would have serious repercussions, according to a story by Dow Jones Newswires.

"The impact of 'a la carte' on the programming industry would be devastating, so it behooves everyone to exercise some restraint," Dolan said in the Dow Jones story.

Dolan warned that if the cost of cable video services continues to increase, there could be a backlash by consumers, which in turn would lead to more scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators.

Dolan was also peeved that networks were providing their content for free on the Internet via their own Web portals while charging cable operators more to carry the shows.

Despite the over-the-top threat, Cablevision chief operating officer Tom Rutledge said he hadn't seen any sign of cord-cutting to date by subscribers, according to the Dow Jones story.

When asked why Cablevision doesn't have a TV Everywhere-type service of its own, Rutledge responded that programmers haven't offered the rights to their content in a way that would make business sense for Cablevision, although he noted that the nation's fifth-largest cable operator wasn't opposed to such a service.

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