Dolan warns that transformed programming model could push a la carte

Rising programming costs and "free" content on the Internet have caused Cablevision Systems (NYSE: CVC) CEO James Dolan to utter three usually unspeakable words--a la carte--and suggest that they might become speakable if things don't change in the content delivery space.

Despite generally accepted consumer beliefs that a la carte will be a benefit to everyone, "The impact of a la carte on the programming industry would be devastating so it behooves everyone to exercise some restraint," Dolan said during an investors conference. Coverage of his comments was carried by The Wall Street Journal.

Dolan was reacting to a new trend by programmers to charge cable systems more for content and then place that content free on the Internet. "That really pushes the envelope," he said.

Cablevision was in a nasty retransmission fees dispute with Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) last spring that went to the wire--and beyond--as ABC pulled its programming from Cablevision markets for about 20 minutes at the start of the Academy Awards program. It's currently in retransmission talks with News Corp.'s Fox Networks. Both those programmers, probably not coincidentally, have offered up content to the fledgling (and competitive) Apple TV.

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