Professor Hazlett Quoted in Column on "A La Carte" Cable Programming Options

Chicago Tribune column quoted statements made by Professor Thomas W. Hazlett in a recent paper dealing with the concept of "a la carte" cable programming.

Tribune columnist Steve Chapman disagreed with those who maintain that consumers would benefit from being able to pay only for those stations they desired to watch.

On cable TV, government doesn't know best, The Chicago Tribune, April 13, 2006. By Steve Chapman.

Martin complains that viewers are compelled to buy stuff they don't want to get the stuff they do. But he has it backward, said Thomas Hazlett, a professor of law and economics at George Mason University and former chief economist at the FCC.

"Subscribers, Hazlett explains in a recent paper, 'only pay the subscription fee if the value of the programs they do demand exceeds the fee. In reality, they pay only for the tier programs they desire to receive, and the cable operator throws the additional channels in for free.'

"If a restaurant offers a varied brunch buffet, but all you want is oatmeal and pancakes, you don't buy unless you think those items are worth the cost. If you later decide you'd like some bacon, it costs you nothing to get it. Even if you're a vegetarian who detests meat, you're not any worse off for having that no-cost option.

"Some cable customers don't want particular channels, but they get them for free and they can get rid of them for free. And most subscribers would rather have a lot of options, even if they don't watch most of them.

"They know what Martin doesn't: When it comes to TV, less is not more."

Read the column