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Posted: 1:44 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011

Clark's challenge: Reduce your TV bill by 40%

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With pay TV providers competing for fewer subscribers, now is the time for you to reduce your monthly bill.

The Wall Street Journal reports the percent of income you pay for pay TV is double what it was 10 years ago. They're not talking about the bill itself being double (it's probably more than that;) they're talking about the percent of your income that goes to pay for it being double. So that means other things like savings and discretionary spending are not happening.

What can you do to reduce what you pay for TV? In a word, shop the market because you're in a position of strength right now.

Pay TV subscribership numbers are dropping for the first time. Younger people are watching free or cheap programming on their computer, tablet or phone instead of paying a big bill for TV service.

As a result, the industry's "take up rate" of new subscribers is not what it used to be and they're bleeding customers left and right of those who remain. Some 400,000 households dumped pay TV in just the last 90 days, according to the estimates I saw. Those folks can be suddenly putting $1,000 annually back in their pocket!

Maybe giving up pay TV is a bridge too far for you. That's fine. I just want you to shop the market. You have cable, satellite and even Verizon and AT&T competing in many markets for your pay TV business.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to reduce your monthly bill by at least 40%.

No matter whether you're with cable, satellite or a monopoly local phone company, I want you to go and shop the competition. Whenever somebody makes you an offer, before you accept it, get an email confirmation of what they'll do for you and what you'll have to pay for it.

Then once you have that offer in hand, get on the phone with your current service provider. Tell them you're ready to leave them and tell them what you're being offered by their competition. You'll then be transferred to a customer retention specialist who has authority to bargain with you. That's where the real savings can happen.

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