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Press Release

July 19, 2011


PTC Files Amicus Brief in Ninth Circuit Case Seeking to Unbundle Cable Programming

Brief Co-Signed by Consumer and Family Organizations


LOS ANGELES (July 19, 2011) – The Parents Television Council filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to hear a class action antitrust lawsuit (Brantley v. NBC Universal) against the cable industry for requiring consumers to pay for bundles of programming. According to the Federal Communications Commission, U.S. consumers are forced to overpay on their monthly cable subscription fees to the tune of more than $100 million per year because of the industry’s product bundling. 

The PTC was joined in its brief by a diverse group of national consumer and family organizations, including: The Consumer Federation of America, Concerned Women for America, Morality in Media, Family Research Council Action, Citizens for Community Values, Arizona Family Council, and Illinois Family Institute. 

“The cable industry in the United States operates like a cartel and has insulated itself from free market principles because of its massive economic power. Consumers, not the cable industry, should decide which networks they purchase every month. We urge the Ninth Circuit Court to put an end to this massive anti-consumer con,” said PTC President Tim Winter.

“Currently, consumers who subscribe to cable and satellite television services are forced to buy bundles of cable network programming, much of which they do not want and do not watch. The result is that American consumers are being fleeced. When you go to the movie theater, you buy a ticket to the show you want to see, not to all 10 theaters in the cineplex. Why must a family that wants Nickelodeon fork over cash every month to MTV, VH1 and Spike?

“Some cable, satellite and telco video distributors have publicly stated their desire to provide unbundled programming and smaller bundles of programming, but the programmers won’t allow it. Even Time Warner, a defendant in this very lawsuit, affirmed the presence of the vice-like bundling grip the programmers hold in a recent statement filed with the FCC.

“Leslie Moonves, President and CEO of CBS, told a packed conference hall at the National Association of Broadcasters meeting that ‘cable is the only media business in the world where money doesn’t follow eyeballs.’ Moonves is right and the cable cartel knows it,” Winter continued.

“When News Corporation purchased the Wall Street Journal, it would have been unthinkable for executives to restrict consumer choice by forcing every newsstand to sell the Journal only as part of a larger bundle of newspapers. Yet when News Corp. launched Fox Business Network, that’s exactly what they did. No one asked cable consumers if they wanted the new network or if they wanted to pay an additional fee each month to receive it.

“How is it possible that during the direst moments of this economic recession every major media sector was being battered financially with the exception of cable network programmers? Cable networks actually reported record profits. The simple answer is that free market forces do not apply to the cartel-like practices of the cable industry. It’s high time for that fact to change,” concluded Winter.

To speak with a representative from the Parents Television Council, please contact Megan Franko at (703) 859-5054 or Liz Krieger at (703) 683-5004 ext. 120.

The Parents Television Council™ (www.parentstv.org®) is a non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment. It was founded in 1995 to ensure that children are not constantly assaulted by sex, violence and profanity on television and in other media. This national grassroots organization has more than 1.3 million members across the United States, and works with television producers, broadcasters, networks and sponsors in an effort to stem the flow of harmful and negative messages targeted to children. The PTC also works with elected and appointed government officials to enforce broadcast decency standards. Most importantly, the PTC produces critical research and publications documenting the dramatic increase in sex, violence and profanity in entertainment. This information is provided free of charge so parents can make informed viewing choices for their own families.





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