The editors of National Review have a good editorial today about the flawed push for federal regulations to require cable companies to provide a la carte programming. As they point out, the bundling model is preferable and parents concerned with indecent material have other options:
All channels…benefit from the bundling model, which allows them to access households that might not otherwise be interested in their programming. For this reason, TV programmers have signed contracts with cable companies that prohibit à la carte sales. Forcing the cable companies to ignore these agreements would amount to a wholesale overwriting of private contractual arrangements. Supporters of à la carte have failed to demonstrate a need for such dirigisme. If consumer demand for à la carte options is sufficiently strong, there is no structural impediment to the market’s satisfaction of it.
Some social conservatives argue that parents should be able to buy the Disney Channel without having to let MTV’s 24-hour sleaze-a-thon into their homes. But parents who wish to shield their children from immoral influences are not without options. They can monitor their children’s viewing, block channels, or forgo cable (or television) altogether. We realize that the existence of these options falls short of a comprehensive solution to the difficulties of raising children in a culture that sometimes seems hostile to the enterprise. But the answer is not a mandate that would trample private contract rights and drive religious programming off the air.
Earlier this year, IWF tackled this issue in our special report Indecency, which is available online here.