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MONDAY, MARCH 13, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Channel-by-channel cable scary to some broadcasters

The prospect of a la carte sales of cable television programs troubles religious broadcasters and many other niche programmers.

Religious broadcasters fear that if customers can buy cable service channel by channel, rather than in packages, the customers will not sign up for their channels. Nowadays, many viewers discover them while channel surfing.

A la carte service "would have a devastating effect on the inspirational programming we currently provide" and "decimate both the audience and the financial support for religious broadcasting," said the Faith and Family Broadcasting Coalition, which includes such prominent preachers as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.

At the same time, some supporters of a la carte see it as a way to help parents sift out good programming from trash, protecting children from sex, violence and other bad influences.

We doubt that anybody will be able to stop a la carte channels, and we wouldn't be surprised to see the future offer a la carte programs: You'll be able to select only the ones that you want to see and download them electronically 24/7.

So religious broadcasters and others who feel threatened are going to have to find a solution through technology, ingenuity and salesmanship. We can see them offering free trials, previews and "best of" packages, for example, in trying to attract viewers.

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