MEDIA PERSPECTIVE: Unbundling cable will bring value at cost of innovation

There are certain things in life you never really know you need until someone invents them. Like media auditors, Chris Evans or Galaxy Swirls. It’s only once you’ve tried them that you realise life had something missing before and it can never be quite the same again without them. So as the prospect looms of the demise of the News Bunny, I can’t help feeling a little sad.

There are certain things in life you never really know you need

until someone invents them. Like media auditors, Chris Evans or Galaxy

Swirls. It’s only once you’ve tried them that you realise life had

something missing before and it can never be quite the same again

without them. So as the prospect looms of the demise of the News Bunny,

I can’t help feeling a little sad.



Not that I’ve ever been a fan of Live TV.



But television life wouldn’t be quite the same without topless darts to

remind us that ITV could actually be worse than it already is.



New rulings on the unbundling of cable TV channels could kill off the

likes of Live TV in a bid to offer consumers greater choice in the

multi-channel cable TV market. For years, the big programme suppliers

have had the cable industry by the balls, bestowing their top channels

only as part of a package which includes less popular fare - take it or

leave it.



Now the Independent Television Commission is about to change all

that.



The idea is that, instead of paying pounds 55 a month for 40-odd

channels of which I actually want maybe seven or eight, I can pick my

favourites, pay less and enjoy real value for money.



I can tell you what they’ll be right now. My top line-up would certainly

include a couple of movie channels (don’t watch them but like to know

they’re there), UK Gold, Paramount Comedy Channel, Sky News, a sports

channel, MTV (for wiggling to while ironing) and, well, that’s about

it.



So there’s my little capsule of channels and, as long as any new

channels are fully showcased free of charge before I have to decide

whether to add them to my list, I think I’d feel pretty happy that this

whole unbundling malarky was working for me. Bye bye News Bunny, no hard

feelings but you’re not for me.



But it’s one thing making an informed personal decision that Live TV is

tripe, and quite another discouraging the emergence of new channels.



Because that’s one real downside of the new rules. Take Paramount - once

a sad little general entertainment channel which I wouldn’t have given a

second glance, now my preferred bedtime viewing after Jeremy Paxman.

Will Paramount be given the time to grow and improve under the new

regime? Will such channels even get off the ground or will the economics

and uncertainties of the new rules hamper experimentation and

innovation?



Mirror Group, owner of Live TV, and its fellow minor channels are

understandably up in arms over the new regime but, in truth, I have

little sympathy for them. We’ve given them a go, now the market will

decide.



It’s the channels I don’t yet know about, and perhaps never will, that

concern me - because now we may never get the opportunity to choose

them.



Don’t forget that, when faced with multi-channel television, 70 per cent

of us still only tick five boxes - the free-to-air terrestrial channels.



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