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Chief Cable Lobbyist Says Industry Offers “Unparalleled Choice”

Submitted by on May 15, 2013 – 9:37 am3 Comments

I know lobbyists are payed to tell some whoppers with a straight face,  but this one impresses even me. Speaking yesterday at a Senate hearing on requiring a la carte cable options, National Cable and Telecommunications Association chief Michael Powell claimed that cable companies are already doing a bang-up job of giving the people options, so we don’t need to go changing anything.

Variety reports:

While Powell said the 1992 Cable Act that governs the industry is “frayed” and “increasingly incomplete and out of sync” with the market, he said now is not the time for a comprehensive rewrite of the law.

“While some surgical changes to the law may be appropriate, a broad rewrite is not necessary and could even be counterproductive by introducing uncertainty and displacing or skewing the marketplace rivalries” that provide “unparalleled choice” to consumers, Powell said in his prepared remarks.

Wow. “Unparalleled choice?”

Powell also claimed that Nickelback provides “unparalleled rock,” Congress provides “unparalleled popularity,” and the Ford Pinto provided “unparalleled safety.”

I supposed he has a point about the cable companies. They allow me to “choose” to pay $15 more dollars a month for one channel I want and 50 I don’t. And I can’t think of another industry with a choice like that (except maybe sub-prime mortgage bundling?).

Also, just as shocking is Powell’s fib that “marketplace rivalries” are driving anything among cable providers. Cable companies dominate individual marketplaces, and generally offer almost identical services for similar prices- and it works to their advantage to keep it that way.

Sen. John McCain has introduced the Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013 to encourage unbundling of cable services and to penalize some actions, but the bill faces strong opposition and has no co-sponsors. McCain also called the hearings of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet where Powell spoke.

Do you think the cable industry offers “unparalleled choice?”

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