McCain's New Crusade: 'A La Carte' Cable TV

Arizona Republican wants consumers to be able to pick their channels
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 9, 2013 11:05 AM CDT
McCain's New Crusade: 'A La Carte' Cable TV
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks at the 43rd Annual Washington Conference on the Americas at the State Department, May 8, 2013.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

John McCain is taking on a new foe: the cable TV industry. The Arizona senator is pushing a bill that would pressure cable and satellite providers to offer channels "a la carte," allowing customers to pick which channels they get and pay for instead of buying by the bundle, the Hill reports. McCain has confirmed he's working on the bill—which should be introduced in a few days—but not its contents. But here's what industry sources say is in it:

  • Content providers would be forbidden from bundling their network and broadcast offerings—so Disney, for example, couldn't force cable companies to take ABC and ESPN in a packaged deal.
  • The bill would ban sports blackouts, like the ones the NFL imposes on games that aren't sold-out at the stadium level.
  • It would help out Aereo, a service that lets consumers stream broadcast TV—and which has come under fire from networks that say it violates their copyright.
  • Any company that took "high-value programming" off of broadcast TV to put it on cable would lose its broadcast license.
The bill is likely to draw strident opposition from cable companies and broadcast networks alike. It's not McCain's first attempt at such legislation either; a similar bill introduced in 2006 went nowhere. (More John McCain stories.)

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