An Open Letter to Comcast

29 Sep

Dear Comcast,

According to a recent story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Fox News Channel is seeking an increase in fees from cable operators, from 27 cents per subscriber to $1 per subscriber. Apparently, the network is prepared to mobilize its viewers; as the story says, Fox News is thinking about “unleashing the wrath of the channel’s base of vociferous viewers” to get this increase to pass, because Fox knows those people don’t want to lose the station.

I know how these things work, and how the cost increase will trickle down to the subscribers, so I’m just waiting for the memo telling me my monthly charge for cable is going up. Considering I already pay more than $80 a month for my service (including HBO and my DVR), I refuse to pay any more just so I can get Fox News on my TV. I’ve had enough of Bill O’Reilly’s closed minded diatribes, and I’ve had enough of people saying Chris Wallace was in the right (no pun intended) for his treatment of Bill Clinton last weekend. And worse, I’m disgusted that Fox News chief Roger Ailes called Clinton’s response to Wallace “an assault on all journalists.” I think it’s an insult that Ailes, O’Reilly and the rest think they can mobilize their viewers and force the rest of us to pay for their bullying, partisan news station.

I don’t watch Fox News ever, and I don’t want to have to help absorb the cost of this nearly four-times increase if it comes to pass. I’d rather not get the channel at all. Or better, I’d rather have the ability to pick and choose which channels I do get. In recent years there have been many pushes for a la carte pricing for cable. It’s like a buffet: you pick which channels you want and only pay for those. I’ll start with the basic networks (ABC, NBC, etc.), then I’ll add some MTV and VH1, MSNBC for my news, HBO, and a few other ones that I actually watch. The plan has its supporters, and I am one of them.

Sure, I am against a potential price increase because I’m against Fox News. And sure, I’d probably be against any increase in the price of cable service, even if it was for channels I like. And yes, it needs to be said that you have not yet announced any price increase to help pay for Fox News. This is all just conjecture on my part. But I wanted to say now, before this got too far, that I speak for many Comcast subscribers when I say please don’t make me pay for the channels I don’t want. Let those who actually want Fox News pay for it.

Thank you.

One Response to “An Open Letter to Comcast”

  1. Humma Kavula October 3, 2006 at 12:03 pm #

    Cable a la carte would be the worst thing ever to happen to cable television.The reason why the cable model works is that millions of people pay for programming that they never watch. Because over 90% of the cable audience doesn’t watch FX, the channel can put out original programming like “The Shield” or “Nip/Tuck” that get abominable ratings when compared with the networks. Because over 90% of the cable audience doesn’t watch Sci-Fi, they can pay for “Battlestar Galactica” and (part of) “Doctor Who.” Notice that this doesn’t apply to HBO. I could pay $12/mo to get HBO, and then I would be paying directly for the production costs of “The Sopranos” and “Deadwood.”Instead, for around $50/mo, I get to watch “Galactica” and “Mythbusters” and all the movies on TCM and every Dodger game of the year and everything else on cable that I watch because I’m also paying for Fox News and Oxygen and the Outdoor Life Network. If cable a la carte comes around, one of two things will happen. Either:a) you’ll be hit with a $5/mo bill to get niche channels like Sci Fi — really, would anybody pay that? — orb) the niche cable programming you love will die, because the channel won’t be able to support it.Those are really the only options as I see them. It will either cost a lot more or it will cease to be any good. You cannot get something for nothing. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

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