Would Pay-Per-Channel Cable Really Save You Money?

Is the idea of choosing to pay for only a few cable channels that you actually watch appealing to you? Well, the idea at least got the attention of the F.C.C.

Last month, the Federal Communications Commission issued a report claiming that digital cable subscribers would save, on average, thirteen percent on their cable bills if offered the option to pay for only the channels they chose. Critics say that the FCC’s data is flawed, and a la carte programming really would end up more expensive for customers.

But what about you and your family? Would you save money by being able to choose exactly which channels you paid for?

According to the FCC, the average family only watches seventeen channels. If this describes your family, then there is a chance that you could save money with a la carte programming. However, Booz Allen Hamilton, an industry consultant, says that the FCC overestimated the average cost per cable channel by as much as fifty percent. This so-called error really makes the difference in whether the average family would save money on pay-per-channel programming or not.

The F.C.C. chairman, Kevin J. Martin, is the commission’s strongest supporter of the change. His primary concern seems to be that cable companies have been raising their rates consistently over the last few years. In the last five years, for example, the average family’s television spending increased by 35.7 percent. Martin explains that the FCC is getting involved to try and persuade cable companies to better meat consumer demands.

And then there are the families like mine, who do not have cable television at all. In our situation, I am certain that a la carte programming would cost our family more than we are spending now. I would definitely be tempted to buy a few of my favorite channels if I could get them at a cheap enough price.

And so the debate goes on. But if you’re REALLY frugal, then there’s no debate at all– You’d rather watch T.V. for free anyway.