Paul  Weyrich

Most of the news this week has been so horrendous that I thought I'd write about something positive. There is one of those subjects being discussed again in Washington on which nearly everyone is in agreement. It is a consumer issue that is important to families and to the free-market economy. Most surprising is that is if a law were to be passed by Congress that would mandate this change of policy it would be welcomed by the left and the right and have bipartisan support.

Few issues are genuinely nonpolitical and good news for both sides of the political aisle but this is one of them. I'm speaking of what has come to be known as "Cable Choice" or a la carte television programming. This is when a consumer or a family chooses which cable stations it wants or does not want, and is not forced to pay for cable channels never viewed or which should not be available to children.

Basic cable service has become almost mandatory. The older citizen with the TV on a stand and an aerial on top is a vanishing species inasmuch as there is no reception anymore without cable. And though the days of free TV are long past, the "basic" cable package, which runs at around $10 a month, is not the problem. The problem is that the consumer must pay an additional $30-60 and take an additional 80 channels when he or she only may want a few.

As Tim Winter, Executive Director of the Parents' Television Council, wrote:

"With the exception of cable television, no other media sector requires a customer to purchase a product he/she does not want - or that he/she may even find harmful or offensive - in order to consume a product that he/she does want. When you go to the ten-theater Cineplex to watch a movie, are you forced also to pay for the other nine movies you're not there to watch?"

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
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