The conflict between cable operators and programmers is "going to get a lot
worse before it gets any better," according to Mike Pandzik, president of the
National Cable Television Cooperative, which represents small and midsized cable
"What used to be a relatively gentlemanly, behind-closed-doors disagreement
between cable operators and cable-programming networks over rate cards has now
spilled out into the streets," Pandzik told the North Central Cable Television
Association Monday in Minneapolis.
"The back-and-forth that used to be limited to grim faces and a few
well-chosen words has now become a street fight -- a knife fight headed to a
gunfight," he added.
He argued that while MSOs continue to operate under a subscription model,
like a magazine, cable programmers are more like broadcast networks, competing
with each other for ad revenue.
Pandzik has tracked the wholesale rate increases for six major cable networks
over the past five years, and he said their prices increased 71 percent in a
period when inflation only rose 12.4 percent. He called for networks' annual
increases not to exceed the Consumer Price Index, 5 percent.
"If this is not done, cable operators will force our industry [within the
next three to five years] to move to an a la carte model," Pandzik told the