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New Pay TV safe from crunch - 21-September-2008, 17:40

Pay TV safe from crunch

The US may go through an economic upheaval, but the average American will keep paying to watch television and escape it all - according to top executives at the largest US pay-TV providers.

Executives at the Goldman Sachs Communicopia Conference said that, while there was no doubt the pending US downturn would impact customers, they were all fairly certain the average US consumer would not cut back on cable or satellite bills.

"As we look around us at the economy, the subscription part of the business has done well," said Glenn Britt, chief executive of Time Warner Cable Inc, the second largest cable operator in the US. "I think people look to television as something they can depend on," said Chase Carey, Chief Executive of DirecTV Group, the largest satellite TV provider. "They cut out restaurants, they cut out theatres, but television is something they can hang on to in tough times," said Carey.

Investors have typically seen pay-TV stocks as recession proof or recession resistant because Americans were more likely to try and save money by staying at home to watch TV then go out. But the US economic downturn would be the first since cable operators in particular have started focusing on selling triple play packages.

Some investors and analysts have been concerned that struggling households could try to reduce bills by cutting off cable all together because the triple play bill is larger than a traditional TV only bill. But Time Warner Cable's Britt argued the triple play package offered "great value" and would in fact save money for consumers.
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