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Consumer Reports

Consumers seldom told of lower rates | (UPI) -- A change in federal rules governing cable TV rates, which allows customers to "pick and choose," is being kept a secret by many systems. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports many cable customers who pay as much as $80 a month to get a few select "high end" channels actually have the right to pay for only the cable they want. The problem, according to the publication, is many cable systems are reluctant to let their customers know of the lower prices for some services.

The federal rule went into effect last fall, but as the paper says, it was implemented "with little fanfare." The new rules allow a person to literally choose many cable channels on what might be called "a la carte."

The essence of the new rule means a person who wants to subscribe to a "higher level" channel, such as HBO, need not purchase all the lower tiers to be eligible to pay for the premium channel.

In Minneapolis, for example, only 14 people have signed up with one cable provider for the "a la carte" service. The cable company tells the publication the capability is not being advertised because it is "not a very attractive package."

Some 70 million of the nation's 104 million households are hooked to cable and the leading two satellite-delivered TV systems together claim about 19 million households.

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