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Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
May 10

Written by:
5/10/2013 9:04 AM  RssIcon

According to today’s story on the website “thehill.com”,  Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is preparing legislation that would force cable and satellite TV companies to offer an a-la-carte menu of channel choices. No more bundling.

Cable and satellite viewers have long complained about the ever increasing cost of service and having to pay for perhaps hundreds of channels they never watch. Research says viewers regularly watch fewer than about 15-percent of the total number of channels available.

McCain's new bill would bar TV networks from bundling their O&Os (network-owned broadcast stations) with cable channels they own during negotiations with the cable companies. So for example, the Disney Company, which owns both ABC and ESPN, could not force a cable provider to pay for ESPN in order to carry ABC.

The latest McCain road to a-la-cart isn’t something new. He attempted to get the Senate to pass a similar bill back in 2006. It died then and many believe his current iteration is doomed to similar fate.

According to The Hill’s story, the bill would also end the sports blackout rule, which prohibits cable companies from carrying a local game if the game is blacked out on local TV stations.

This rule would have the most effect on the NFL, which prevents local stations from carrying a local game if the home team does not sell out the stadium. The rule forces local fans to buy tickets instead of staying home to watch the home games.

According to some, the bill also could help new broadcast competitor Aereo.

McCain’s proposed bill also would deny FCC licenses to companies that switch high-value programming from over-the-air television to cable channels.

The NAB, it seems, has yet to comment. Although I did find it interesting that there was an NAB ad “We are broadcasters” on the same page as this story. Coincidence? Probably not.

Sometimes the reader comments to a story tell as much about public perception as the article itself.

Comments:

...Oh snap, I don't believe I am actually agreeing with McCain on this!!
But, hey, when they do the rare thing of doing something right...I give credit where credit is due...and this is a great idea from McCain

...I think this is the first time I have agreed with McCain on anything in at least 5 years

...Unfortunately, McCain ....has not had much of a success record ...so that may be the kiss of death for the idea.

...While I would like to have control over which channels I get, it is not the responsibility of the Government to intrude on the natural flow of commerce and business. If enough people drop cable and satellite then the companies will conform to consumer wishes. Thanks but No Thanks McCain.

...Who do you think delivers those internet bits and Bytes? The cable companies! You may drop TV but cable is ubiquitous in our lives. Netflix could not exist without cable. Oh and, the local Telco's wont fill the gap with puny DSL.

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