Mccain Calls For "Unbundling" Cable Channels
Arizona Senator John McCain on Thursday introduced a bill, the Television Consumer Freedom Act, aimed at allowing consumers to buy cable and broadcast channels on an a la carte basis. In a statement, McCain said that American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka told him, My next-door neighbor is 74, a widow. She says to me, Why do I have to get all that sports programming? She has no idea that in the course of a year, for just ESPN and ESPN2, she is sending a check to Disney for about $70. She would be apoplectic if she knew. McCain has attempted to force the unbundling of cable channels before, without success, but he suggested that consumers are today becoming increasingly angry with the ever-growing costs of cable subscriptions and will rally behind his bill. He cited a recent FCC survey that concluded that between 1995 and 2011 the average cost of a cable TV subscription has risen from about $25 a month to $54. McCain's bill also includes two other sections -- one aimed at broadcasters who say they will pull their programs off over-the-air television and move them to cable if they lose their lawsuit against Aereo and similar operators. Noting that our country is facing a spectrum crunch, McCain said that his bill provides that if a broadcaster does not provide the same content over the air as it provides through cable, then the spectrum will be taken from the broadcaster by the FCC and auctioned off. A third section of McCain's bill would nullify sports blackout rules when they apply to events taking place in government-financed stadiums.