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Studies Fault a la Carte Cable Pricing

March 16, 2006|From Bloomberg News

Walt Disney Co. and the cable television industry released two studies Wednesday that fault a recent government report on the sale of cable TV channels separately rather than in packages, saying the shift would increase consumer costs.

Commissioned by Disney and the National Cable & Telecommunications Assn., the studies disputed a Feb. 9 Federal Communications Commission report supporting so-called a la carte channel sales. The FCC report said a la carte sales could lower consumer costs by as much as 13%.

"The FCC report is fundamentally flawed," said George Bodenheimer, the co-chairman of Disney Media Networks and president of ESPN Inc. and ABC Sports. "The overwhelming body of evidence clearly shows that consumers will pay more and get less with a la carte."

The studies are the latest salvo in a struggle to force cable companies to let consumers pick each channel they receive so they have more control over the programs reaching their homes.

FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin has supported a la carte pricing. He said this month that plans by Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Inc., the No. 1 and 2 U.S. cable companies, didn't give consumers enough control.

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