Cable Operators

SBCA Concerned About a la Carte

5/10/2004 10:37 AM Eastern

The Satellite Broadcasting & Communications Association wants Congress to keep important industry legislation free of cable a la carte issues.

SBCA president Richard DalBello issued a statement Monday indicating that a la carte provisions might accompany the legislation and perhaps create obstacles to passage.

“While I agree that issues such as a la carte pricing and indecency standards deserve discussion, they should be debated separately,” DalBello said.

Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) wants to add a la carte language to a bill extending the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act for another five years.

Deal’s approach would bar contracts that blocked cable companies from selling channels a la carte, but cable companies would actually be under no legal obligation to sell channels one by one.

Deal may be required by House rules to limit his amendment to the satellite industry -- a procedural victory for a nervous cable industry.

DalBello is concerned that an a la carte fight might deflect attention away from the SHVIA bill, which needs to pass before the end of the year to prevent key provisions from sunsetting.

“Our licenses expire Dec. 31 of this year, and Congress mustaddress this bill before then,” DalBello said.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is planning to vote on the legislation Thursday.