Cable Unboxed – President Obama & Consumer Choice

President Obama has asked the FCC to allow the consumer to be able to have more choices in their cable television providers in order to lower prices and increase competition. The average American, according to Reuters, can spend over $1,000 over four years just to rent their cable box. While the price of cell phones, tablets, televisions, and laptop computers have decreased in price; the cost of cable television box rentals has increased.

This increase can be attributed mainly to the fact that there is little to no competition in that marketplace. The manner in which cable television regulations were initiated, the companies have exclusivity in many areas of the country. The ability to provide choices to the consumer is limited due to many other factors such as some telco providers, Verizon Fios for example, needs fiber optic cable lines installed in a neighborhood in order to provide access to their service. If the neighborhood does not have the lines, the families have less choices for cable television.

In certain housing types, the choices are limited because of other regulations. A good example is a condo or townhouse community which has certain rules from their association regarding the installation of satellite dishes (whether they can be installed on the front of a building) and the exposure of the building could limit the installation of Direct TV or Dish Network from being a viable option.

The cable industry needs further competition in order to flatten the costs that they are increasingly passing along to the consumer. America is about choice and the freedom to make choices to select the best possible product or service for your family. Cable television should be no exception to that scenario.

In fair balance, the cable providers are against this change to the regulations saying that it will lead to increased costs and will eventually be a negative to the consumer. They also claim that people are streaming and watching programming through different avenues and services and that this regulatory change will only further that ability of the customer to remove the cable service altogether.

It is an interesting argument and one that will take shape as the FCC weighs the next move in this situation. I only know that many people I know have seen their cable bills increase and they would like to see some remedy or ability to choose their service. I hope that this regulatory change provides that relief.