John McCain’s A La Carte Cable Bill Gains a Co-Sponsor

John McCain Cable Satellite
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Connecticut's Richard Blumenthal Backs Legislation

Sen. John McCain’s proposed legislation to force cable operators to offer channels a la carte gained new co-sponsor on Tuesday, as Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) announced that he would back the bill.

Blumenthal is a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which would have jurisdiction over such legislation.

“Consumers should not have to pay for television channels they don’t want or watch,” Blumenthal said. “The current antiquated, antidemocratic system imposes all-or-nothing cable packages that give consumers no control over their cable bill, and prevent subscribers from voting with their feet when they are unhappy.”

McCain said that “the government and special interests have stacked the regulatory deck in favor of preserving an outdated business model that forces consumers to buy — at ever-increasing prices — ‘bundled’ cable packages filled with channels they don’t want to watch.”

A spokesman for the National Cable and Telecommunications Assn. said they had no comment. But cable executives have argued that offering channels a la carte would actually reduce diversity, in that lesser-rated channels would struggle to survive. Meanwhile, they argue that bigger channels like ESPN could command hefty prices from consumers, perhaps even driving up their bills even further. Some noted that ESPN is based in Blumenthal’s home state.

The Television Consumer Freedom Act establishes that cable, satellite or any multichannel video operator has the “legal right’ to offer any channel on an a la carte basis. Although it was given long odds of passage, McCain has said that it has “overwhelming support” among consumers.

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  1. Lane Norris says:

    Long past due. I am sick of paying for all the sports and music channels. I want more PBS channels, but am only “allowed” one from DirectTV. Treated like a child!

  2. Something we have needed for years due to the virtual monopoly cable companies have. Their prices are outrageous, and they truly refuse to communicate with their customers. Oh they do though send out that monthly bill.

  3. PaulInPgh says:

    Hey NBC/Universal, ABC Disney, Viacom and other media companies, hear that sound? It’s the death rattle, the last dying breaths of your utterly corrupt and unsustainable business model.

    If not this bill, then the next one, if not legislation then the Internet, it doesn’t really matter, now it’s only a matter when not if the days of heaping extravagant contracts on personalities and programming nobody wants and forcing consumers to subsidize it are coming to an end.

  4. Osama0bama says:

    I watch probably the same 5 channels on DirecTV because there are 200 others with nothing to watch on them! And I still have to pay for them all. Although I am not usually for government intervention, and this like all laws will probably have unintended consequences, I am sick of getting screwed with my TV bill every month! I have unsubscribed toalmost every tier, and yet my bill is north of $90 every month. And there’s still nothing on!. Even bought a Roku, and even with Amazon Prime there’s even less on Roku! Enough! Watching a little TV shouldn’t cost north of $1200 a year.

  5. Howard Blake says:

    I almost hate to agree with John McCain on ANYTHING, but this just makes sense! AND it’s been a long time in coming. Now if it’s not defeated by all of the other politicians in bed with the cable/Sat TV folks…

  6. tim poleman says:

    This should have been done from the start. Let the cream rise to the top and the sludge settle on the bottom, I watch about 15-20 channels but have to pay for 150? Makes no sense, I feel ripped off every month I pay my bill.

  7. Pat says:

    I support this 100%. I hate paying for garbage channels. If enough people go ala cart, then channels like MTV and others would either start putting on quality shows or go extinct.

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