Fortune‘s senior writer Marc Gunther today offers one of the most clear-eyed deconstructions of why the FCC‘s recently proposed “unbundling” of cable channels – also known as a la carte pricing – is a crazy idea.
We’re not saying we agree; we’re just suggesting Gunther’s penned an excellent read.
One point Gunther makes we do agree with:
“We can be fairly sure, though, about one thing unbundling would do: It would drive a bunch of cable channels out of business. They’d lose subscriber fees and ad revenues. Most people would not miss G4 or Sprout or the Golf Channel or the Independent Film Channel or BET but the reason pay television has become so pervasive — about 85 percent of American homes subscribe to either cable or satellite — is that it serves a variety of niche audiences.”
Personally, I would just as soon stop subsidizing the anorexic Golf Channel and the even more ridiculous HGTV. (Anyone who’s ever met me knows that last thing I want to do is “turn my bathroom into a spa-like sanctuary”; give me any copy of The New Yorker from the last sixth months and a full roll of Scott two-ply and I assure you: I’m in my own spa-like sanctuary.)
Even if unbundling’s only merit is the elimination of choices we never wanted to make, it’s worth it. Finally, I’ll be able jump right to F/X and watch the “The Shield” instead of growing old and gray ploughing through endless bathroom redecorations, military histories and golf tips.