Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is working on legislation that would pressure cable and satellite TV providers to allow their customers to pick and choose the channels they pay for, his office confirmed on Wednesday [...]A la carte: As anyone trying to sign up for cable or satellite knows, you get stuck paying a bill for dozens (if not hundreds) of channels, when the vast majority of us really only watch a handful. In my perfect world, I'd pay for the four broadcast networks, Syfy, Comedy Central, ESPN, Bein Sports, NBC sports and BBC America. Heck, if it wasn't for sports, I'd ditch the broadcast networks and catch the best shows on Netflix, Amazon and/or iTunes.
In addition to pressuring cable providers to offer channels a la carte, McCain's new bill would bar TV networks from bundling their broadcast stations with cable channels they own during negotiations with the cable companies, according to industry sources. 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 industry officials said the bill would also end the sports blackout rule, which prohibits cable companies from carrying a sports event if the game is blacked out on local broadcast television stations.
Instead, I have to subscribe to a billion godawful and irrelevant (to me) networks. And what's worse, I have to subscribe at a higher tier to get the handful of channels I do like. It's gotten to the point that if sports leagues offered their product direct to consumers (via online), I'd ditch satellite in a heartbeat. Let me pick a la carte, and I have less impetus to do so.
Bundling: This is the practice of studios forcing cable and satellite operators to carry their shitty networks or they pull the stuff people actually want to see. So, for example, Disney may force a cable company to carry ABC Family, and if they don't, they threaten to pull ESPN. It's a shitty way to do business. Any legislation banning this practice would be fantastic.
Sports blackouts: Being a Chicago fan living in the SF Bay Area, I don't have to deal with this scourge of sports broadcast rules. Get rid of it.
The legislation would also bar broadcast networks from pulling their over-the-air broadcasts and moving them over to cable in response to Aereo—a company that provides over-the-air TV via the internet by employing thousands of tiny antennas. Cable and satellite operators pay big bucks to carry the broadcast networks, and this small but clever company is upending that business model.
The broadcast lobby is gearing up, of course, and they'll claim this legislation will "stifle innovation" and other such bullshit. But with over 1 million Americans "cutting the cord" last year, and the trend accelerating, this legislation could very well rescue these broadcasters from their own myopic stupidity.