Conservative Groups Pushing a la Carte

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A coalition of conservative organizations is planning to release a poll May 5 showing that parents do not want to pay cable companies for indecent programming as a condition of receiving channels that they think are appropriate for their children.

The poll will be released at a Capitol Hill press conference by Concerned Women for America, which has 500,000 members and considers itself the largest public-policy women's organization.

CWA said in a press release Thursday that it was also launching a radio- and print-ad campaign to drive home the message that purchasing cable a la carte will allow parents to filter indecent programming in a cost-effective manner.

"Americans have no choice in selecting their basic-cable package under the current market controls. The people voted for choice in our poll, and we're asking cable companies and Congress to listen to the people," CWA chief counsel Jan LaRue said.

Joining CWA will be a few other right-leaning groups, including Citizens for Community Values, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family and Parents Television Council. Consumers Union -- a cable rate foe long before the indecency issue flared -- is also sending a representative to the press conference.

On Wednesday, Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) floated a plan that would require cable-network owners to allow pay TV distributors to sell their channels a la carte.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association insists that an a la carte market would lead to higher cable bills and less programming diversity.

The NCTA stated that large programming tiers permit niche channels to incubate and mature into products that command both license fees and advertising revenue.

Consumers who want a la carte services would have to pay for set-top boxes for one or more TV sets and likely pay significantly more to retain something close to the same level of programming service, the trade group has said.