Time Warner Cable’s Britt says he supports smaller TV packages

The anti-bundling bill by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) may be going nowhere, but Time Warner Cable Chief Executive Officer Glenn Britt says he supports the idea of having smaller television packages.

Britt told an audience at the Cable Show in Washington D.C. that cable TV packages are becoming too expensive for many low income households, including recent college graduates struggling to find work.

He said these issues are “illustrated” by McCain’s bill to overhaul the way pay TV distributors and programmers package and sell programming, while saying that it is very unlikely the bill will proceed.


“The symbolism there is people are starting to pay attention to the fact that the multichannel TV package ... is starting to get too expensive for lower income people,” Britt said.

He noted that consumers are looking for more flexibility than what traditional TV packages offer and that the industry should pay attention.

“I think it’s what consumers want, so we’re going to have to do that,” he said.

McCain recently unveiled the Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013, which would provide incentives for the industry to start selling channels to customers on an individual basis so viewers don’t have to pay for channels in which they aren’t interested.

It’s aimed at fighting so-called bundling, when big companies such as Viacom and Walt Disney Co. roll all their channels into one bundle that they sell to distributors.

Viacom Chief Executive Officer Philippe Dauman last month mocked the effort in remarks to investors and analysts.

Time Warner Cable and other cable companies have been giving customers more options for viewing on multiple devices, including tablets, smartphones and set-top devices such as Roku.

The company on Tuesday said it is making its TV app available on Samsung Smart TVs starting this summer.

“There is a consumer appetite for a lot more flexibility than they have today with the package,” Britt said. “That’s why we are getting on all the devices.”

On broadband Internet, Britt dismissed concerns that the U.S. is falling behind other countries’ Web speeds -- an issue Google Inc. has been trying to address with its high-speed Internet service called Google Fiber.

“We were just in Europe last week visiting investors there,” he said. “We tell them there is that perception in the rest of the world and they break in gales of laughter because Europe actually is way behind us in broadband.”


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