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Policy

Baxter to Argue Time Warner’s a la Carte Concerns

7/13/2004 8:43 AM Eastern

Time Warner Cable president Thomas Baxter is scheduled to testify Wednesday before a House subcommittee in opposition to calls for more a la carte options on cable -- an issue that has gained currency among some lawmakers on Capitol Hill who are concerned about rising cable rates and indecent programming.

The hearing is expected to focus on a number of a la carte issues. No one from the Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to appear, even though the agency is conducting a wide-ranging look at a la carte as a policy option for lawmakers. The FCC report for Congress is due Nov. 18.

Also scheduled to testify are: Gene Kimmelman, senior director of public policy and advocacy for the Consumers Union; Alfred Liggins, chairman of TV One; Bennett Hooks, CEO of Buford Media Group LLC; Ben Pyne, executive vice president of The Walt Disney Co. and ESPN affiliate sales and marketing; the Rev. Glenn R. Plummer, chairman of National Religious Broadcasters; Richard DalBello, president of the Satellite Broadcasting & Communications Association; Paul Fitzpatrick, CEO of Crown Media Holdings Inc. and Hallmark Channel; and Janet M. LaRue, chief counsel and legal studies director of Concerned Women for America.

Some lawmakers think a la carte would lower cable rates, but many in the cable industry have argued that the breakup of large tiers would cause consumers to pay more for fewer channels.

Some in Congress also maintain that a la carte would allow parents to stop indecent programming from even showing up on their TV screens. Cable has attempted to address the indecency issue by offering free blocking technology to consumers who need it.

September