Altice USA CEO pushes back on calls for provider-level censorship

Asked about the pressure from two US politicians on cable providers not to offer right-wing TV news channels, Dexter Goei said he’ll let the market decide.

Ridiculously illiberal letters were sent to all the major US cable TV providers last week, urging them to stop including three right-leaning news networks in their content bundles. There were no public responses from any of the recipients at the time, but in a wide-ranging interview with CNBC, Altice USA CEO Dexter Goei was asked what he thought of it.

“I think from a professional standpoint, our customers require and request a certain amount of content,” said Goei. “Some of the names that were mentioned in this letter to us clearly are content and channels that our customers want. And so we’re a provider of content for what our customers want… And to the extent that they don’t want that type of content or other channels, they can disconnect from us.”

It’s not rocket science is it? Let cable providers provide what they want and then let the market decide whether it fancies it. Even if someone ends up with channels they don’t like they don’t have to watch them. Of course, the political intervention was never about choice – quite the opposite in fact. Things have become so polarized in the US that an increasing proportion of the population think their ideological opponents should be censored and it’s good to see the likes of Goei rise above such nonsense.

He was then asked whether he could see a day in which Altice doesn’t offer any linear cable TV. “Yeah, because the economics get worse and worse every year,” said Goei. “Price levels for content continue to rise. Eyeballs for content over big bundles continue to fall.

“I am certain we will be able to figure out ways to work with our partners in the content world to make that transition smoothly to some type of an OTT format that’s attractive — maybe where we don’t have as much economic play in there. That way, we don’t have to deal with the diminishing returns that we are doing regularly.

“But at the end of the day, most content, more and more, is being consumed over broadband. As people move away from the cable bundle, by definition, everything is going to the OTT world over broadband.”

So it seems the days of the traditional cable provider are numbered anyway, making the demand for provider-level censorship redundant as well as despotic.

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