Changing the way people pay for TV


Reporter- Briana Conner
Photographer- Justin Jones

PADUCAH, Ky.— A local lawmaker introduces an idea that would let people pick and pay only for the channels they watch. State Representative Gerald Watkins of Paducah has filed legislation that would change the way people pay for cable TV, something he says has become too expensive.

It's a proposal that's also been introduced on a national level. Senator John McCain introduced The Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013 in May. It would force cable providers to price channels on an individual basis. Cable companies could still offer bundled packages, but the industry's trade group says they're not on board.  The National Cable and Telecommunications Associaton says, "Attempting to force retail models on private providers is unnecessary and counterproductive." Representative Watkins says the idea isn't about penalizing providers. It's about giving consumers more choices.

At Big Mike's Barber Shop, owner and master barber Michael Taylor said the experience is all about the customer. That's why he has three TV's, though they usually stay on the same few channels. He said, "I'm paying for them. It's expensive, and it's costing me way too much."

Rep. Watkins says business owners like Taylor and senior citizens on fixed incomes inspired his idea for cable a la carte. He said, "I'm pro business and pro economic development, but you also got to protect the consumer." His proposal would put the control in the customers hands, and an idea barber Ron Brisbon says would be ideal for his mother, a senior citizen. "She would just need about four or five channels, and that would save a lot for her," he said.

Saving money, Watkins said, without penalizing the providers. "Profits will still be in the industry. They'll just be more reasonable. The consumer will benefit." That's something Taylor said makes shear sense. "I wish it happened now," he said.

Kentucky Cable Telecommunications Association Executive Director Randy Hollis sent a statement by email that reads, "Kentucky Cable Telecommunications AssociationNearly every study by government agencies or private economists has shown that mandatory per channel pricing would cause consumers to pay more for less and would reduce program diversity. The current model used by cable and satellite providers to deliver a bundle of channels to consumers provides both the widest variety of content and best value.  Several independent and industry analyses have been consistent in their conclusions that pay-per-channel would increase prices for consumers, decrease choice and reduce diversity in programming."

Last yearr, the average price for cable TV was about $60 a month in America according to The FCC.