Congressman Bobby Rush

Representing the 1st District of Illinois

U.S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush Says Cable a La Carte Pricing Hurts Minority Programming

Feb 17, 2006
Press Release

WASHINGTON (February 17, 2006) Washington DC - Congressman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) along with 30 other members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) released a letter to Senators Ted Stevens and Daniel Inouye, Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Committee, respectively, urging them to oppose an "a la carte" pricing system for cable and direct broadcast satellite services. 

 I am opposed to an a la carte system as it has the unintended consequences of reducing diversity programming and passing on increased costs to the consumer. said Rush.

  The letter, which was also delivered to Congressmen Joe Barton and John Dingell, Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, respectively, as well as to members of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), reaffirms the CBC's strong opposition to an a la carte regime

 A copy of the letter is pasted below.   

Dear Chairman Stevens and Ranking Member Inouye:

 In the recent forums that you have conducted on indecency legislation, the issue of offering "a la carte" program services on cable and direct broadcast satellite services has once again been brought into the debate.  As we made clear last Congress, we oppose an "a la carte system" and believe it is likely to have the effect of reducing diversity of programming while at the same time increasing costs to the consumer.

 In the last several years new cable networks have been created such as TV One, a cable network for African Americans and ESPN Deportes, a Spanish language sports network.  In an "a la carte" world, it would have been next to impossible for these channels to have been launched.  More troubling, if an "a la carte" system were to become reality, these channels, and others like them that offer diversity in programming, might not survive.

 These channels cannot exist with only the subscription fees they charge to cable companies.  Revenue from a national advertising base is essential.  In an "a la carte" world, the potential advertising base for niche channels would be severely eroded.  This would lead to less advertising dollars for the programmer, an increase in licensing fees and an increase in consumer costs.  This ultimately leads to fewer choices for consumers.  This has been confirmed by a lengthy analysis conducted by the non-partisan General Accounting Office (GAO).

We urge you in considering any indecency legislation not to support any "a la carte" regime.  The great strides made in diversification of programming would be severely threatened and the cost to consumers would surely rise.

 Thank you for your consideration.



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Bobby L. Rush                                                Melvin L. Watt                                                  

Member of Congress                                            Member of Congress