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FCC Reconsiders Forced Bundeling

Probably as the result of effective lobbying from a vested interest, and in a clear reversal of course, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has backed a plan that calls for cable television providers to offer viewers the option of subscribing to individual channels, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The notion is a radical departure from current practices, in which cable companies offer mandatory bundled packages of channels. In a Senate Commerce Committee forum, however, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said that a la carte programming "could be economically feasible and in consumers' best interests."

The FCC can't force cable companies to make the change, but its position could become a driving force in the debate and potentially spur the creation of new legislation. While the move is seen as a positive for consumers, who could lower their overall bills by dropping channels they don't watch and be able to better protect their children from objectionable programming, cable providers say it could ultimately reduce the choices for viewers.

How would unbundling reduce programing choice, that's unclear? In fact, given the rise of Video on Demand (VOD) options, and the delivery of an eclectic mix of VOD content over the internet, this issue may very well eventually become a moot point. So, which power broker is manipulating the FCC's policy position this time? We'll just have to wait and see.

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