You can have the Land of the Free, I'll take the Land of the Prix (Fixe)


In the National Review, Adam Thierer (excuse me, "Capitalist Tool" Adam Thierer) contradicts conservatives who applaud FCC chairman Kevin Martin for using his "bully pulpit" to scare cable providers into offering à la carte packages. Beyond the obvious points that conservatives generally aren't so openly in favor of bully pulpits, threats of extra regulation, and a definition of rights that includes your right to buy a cable package and then insist the government protect you from the package you just bought, Thierer notes the plight of small-bore cable programmers:

Conservatives typically oppose such mandates because of the potential unintended consequences of bureaucratic market-meddling. In this case, the costs associated with à la carte regulation could be steep in terms of true consumer choice and program diversity. If regulators mandate the "unbundling" of cable and satellite tiers and make it a federal crime for video programmers to sell channels as part of package, it could mean that many niche and minority-oriented channels will go under. Most family-oriented and religious programmers oppose à la carte mandates for this reason. They understand that their programs only attract a small subset of the overall universe of viewers. If their networks are not bundled alongside other channels, or included in the basic tier, they might disappear entirely.

Whole story here.

All these arguments recap points I made last month, although my concern isn't so much ideological as practical: There's no way in hell a package crafted by Comcast under pressure from a government concerned with reducing the range of stuff you're "exposed to" is not going to end up being a bigger ripoff than the package you're getting now.

(I also figured out why that article got me a bunch of emails from people condemning me for my anti-Catholicism: Apparently it got picked up by a bunch of Mother Angelica fansites whose readers were expecting the article to be about the formidable Poor Clare. This radio show even brought on some other guy as an expert witness to discuss my article. Why isn't the FCC doing something about that?)