Cable/Satellite Technical Question

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by RAC, Feb 15, 2004.

  1. RAC

    RAC Guest

    I was following the Boycott MTV thread on CF, and was wondering (no this is NOT going to be a discussion of THAT) if it is possible for the cable/satellite companies to go completely "a la carte" with channels.

    DH says no, it's too expensive to set up, and it would raise prices for everyone. I feel that they already deal with pay-per-view, so why couldn't they still sell channels by quantity, but you could choose the 20 or 30 channels that you want, instead of the (truly laughable) 150 channels, many of which not only are just filler (QVC, HSN, etc.), but some are just silly (really, do you sit and "watch" your music channels?). Another thing that gripes me is that most of those stations you pay for do not have real programming on late at night (I really miss some of the older shows like Sha Na Na), but just infomercials.

    So, could they do "choose your 20,30,40 stations for x price" and charge the same rates, or not? I could understand locking you into your choices for a year (that is, for your regular choices). Would the FCC have to force them into it?
  2. Janon

    Janon 993cc Geo Metro

    Aug 25, 2002
    Southern Ontario CANADA
    I suppose they could if they wanted to. Right now, sat channels are bunched into "tiers" (groups), but there are channels which are already alone in their tier. With online ordering, computers and the smart cards (that credit card looking thing you insert into your sat receiver) which are programmable, recivers which are programmable... anything is possible.

    I actually like the music channels... 24 hours of whatever style of music you're into, no commercials, no annoying talk. Obviously I don't watch the TV, I just listen to it through my stereo. :)

    I don't know too much about cable, but I'd assume they can control every channel and who receives what channels (especially with digital boxs).


  3. comfortablynumb

    comfortablynumb Well-Known Member

    Nov 18, 2003
    Dysfunction Junction, SW PA
    C-band sat used to be all alacarte, and it was much cheaper. then they started the "packages".
  4. Cindy in PA

    Cindy in PA Well-Known Member

    May 13, 2002

    Just the other week they were discussing this on TV. It was a congressman or something stating how the cable bill from 1996 was supposed to lower cable rates and it hasn't because the hoped for competition has not materialized. He wants a bill to pass that they must offer ala carte for customers. We were promised this about 8 years ago when it was AT & T and they strung new lines. I don't mind the waste of channels as much as Comcast making you get a box for the channels that are interesting instead of going thru the TV. About 5 years ago they offered a 5 station package including History Channel and you have to have a box to descramble them. At $4 per month, you'd better only have one TV. Our cable bill went up over $6 just this year. If you want their whole lineup(digital) (many that other companies have on their standard setup, no premiums channels) you have to pay $10/ TV for a box. On top of that now at least 8 channels are spanish ones. No problem with this except I don't need them and could have something else on the lineup.
  5. Gary in ohio

    Gary in ohio Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 11, 2002
    Your going to be hard pressed to get true alacarte. Most satellite/cable provider get deals. Take CNN and HNN and you get TBS/TNT for free. So thats how a lot of channels get on the air. If you take THis channel you must also take this channel. SO your 150 is 20-30 base channels and free stuff.
  6. RAC

    RAC Guest

    So it can be done, they just won't until they're forced to. I thought so. We have DishNetwork, and many commercials are "add this channel, add that channel".

    You can set a favorites list (I think up to 4 lists), but I'm sure you have to reprogram every time there is a power outage.

    One would think that there would be stations that would reduce their prices pretty quick if it were a choice of being carried or not being carried....
  7. It can definately be done, because I can program a Dishnetwork smart card to get every or any channel you would like, and remove those you do not want.
  8. Teresa

    Teresa Well-Known Member

    Oct 8, 2002
    you can still get ala carte with a big dish. We have a 10 year old 10 foot dinosaur and pay $18 year for sci fi only.
  9. JWH123

    JWH123 Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2003
    I think a lot of what I consider to be the 'lesser' cable channels depend on being 'bundled' in with other channels to be seen by anyone. Would anyone pay to have the home shopping network, the golf channel, Court TV, or C-SPAN? I don't think I would. Those types of channels depend on being thrown in with a bundle. Otherwise they would only have 200 subscribers, and obviously wouldn't be able to last more than a month.

    So, I think some channels could stand on their own to be on an a la carte lineup. Some couldn't. Technically possible? I think so, especially with the addressable digital converter boxes. Same idea as pay-per-view. The company must have some way of knowing which people should get which channels.

  10. RAC

    RAC Guest

    "Would anyone pay to have the home shopping network, the golf channel, Court TV, or C-SPAN? I don't think I would. Those types of channels depend on being thrown in with a bundle. Otherwise they would only have 200 subscribers, and obviously wouldn't be able to last more than a month."

    Broadcast TV is supported by advertising, the others must be to a great extent also. I understand the charge for the technology, but look at how many of the old shows wouldn't be on the air at all if it weren't for cable channels. Reverse the view a moment: you can either have your show on some station, getting some revenue, or it can sit on a shelf somewhere and collect dust. I believe that the person/company selling an item is buying time on HSN or QVC, just like you'd buy an ad in the classified section of the paper.

    A lot of old PBS shows (paid for to some extent by our taxes and donations) end up on Discovery (some are even produced by them), or RFDTV, or Food Network, etc. TVLand is virtually ALL reruns--only costs are perhaps some restoration expenses (which may for all I know be paid for by the show owners) and paying someone to stick the tape in at the right time of day (I know it's a little more than that, but there is almost NO new programming costs on many of these stations). There are some radio stations that have no live deejays at all, I used to listen to one where the tapes were so old that you knew what song was going to come on next.

    And, you can still get free set-ups in exchange for a year's contract of programming, so the technology can't be that expensive.

    I wouldn't mind the junk channels if ALL of the other channels came with them, but I scratch my head at why the Oprah channel (Oxy?) for example, costs extra when the programming on it isn't anything special. And as for pay-per-view--Netflix is a far better value for the money, imho.

    We had a big dish at one time, but didn't like having to change between the satellites all the time (changing channels was always a pain), although it was nice to see the Olympics from Canada....

    I guess I will re-read the owner's manual and create my customized list....