Cable’s Con Job: More Than Just Channels

Written by PTC | Published May 30, 2013

The cable industry has long made billions of dollars off of customers with its practice of “bundling” – forcing each subscriber to pay for hundreds of channels they don’t want to get a few they do. But TV channels aren’t the only things the companies “bundle.” As The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson points out, most of the same companies who sell cable TV subscriptions also sell Internet access and phone plans. Comcast subscribers are familiar with its “Triple Play” plan, whereby if the subscriber purchases phone, Internet, and cable TV in a “bundle,” they pay slightly less for each, while a customer wanting only one of the three will pay nearly as much as all three together. Thus, even as more and more consumers are “cutting the cord” and watching TV by other means (primarily Internet streaming) – a process which is causing cable subscriptions to plunge -- the cable industry continues to rake in the money – since they’re not only selling bundles of channels, but bundles of services, and the same people who are ditching cable are still paying them for Internet access. Thus, even as cable subscription have declined, the same companies are still making money hand over fist off the very same customers -- because they’re able to sell other services like internet and phone. While Cable Choice alone is a noble goal, the vast entertainment and telecommunications conglomerate still has the American consumer in its grasp. Perhaps what is needed is a latter-day Teddy Roosevelt, who would “bust the trusts” of the telecommunications industry.

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