As an increasing number of players, mainly telcos, enter the video services business, a recurring issue up for debate is programming and its costs. Service providers are increasingly required to carry a multitude of channels that many claim are of no interest to their subscribers. Carrying those channels have ‘real’ costs for service providers, which are in turn passed on to customers.
The concept of ‘a la carte’ programming, where end customers can select and pay for only the channels they want, is often cited as a desirable outcome to address this issue. It’s an ongoing debate, with passionate arguments for and against the practice. An anti-trust lawsuit was filed by some consumers against NBC Universal, Comcast, DirecTV and other pay-TV providers and content distributors, saying these programming ‘bundling’ practices were harmful to consumers.
Those plaintiffs will have to regroup. The case, Brantley v. NBC Universal Inc., 07-6101, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles) was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder. Some argue that the marketplace is resolving this issue on its own, but for the time being, formal a la carte rules will have to wait.