by David Mendez
Sen. John McCain may be less popular now than he has been in more than 20 years, but that doesn't stop the former maverick from doing what he feels is right — at least, when it comes to the wacky, wild world of telecommunications.
Yesterday, May 9, McCain introduced the Television Consumer Freedom Act (you can tell it's important, because FREEDOM), which would force television providers to split up their growing hordes of tiers and bundling, allowing cable subscribers to pick their channels a la carte — channel by channel — rather than being forced to pay for channels that they don't watch (meaning that I can FINALLY cast off the oppressive yoke of HGTV and their massive programming blocks of House Hunters).
In good news for sports fans, this would get rid of the absurd blackout rules put in place by leagues whose teams use publicly-funded stadiums (which are becoming increasingly, INCREASINGLY popular) — so suck on that, NFL blackout rule.
McCain's main beef with paid TV providers, sports leagues, and broadcasters that threaten to make their popular content available only to a paid audience is that consumers are being forced to pay more for TV content than they should be paying.
When it comes to the bundles, McCain argues that cable companies and other TV providers force consumers to pay for a bigger bundle of channels than they actually want. So instead of only getting the one or two channels they want to watch, they must pay for 10, 20, or even 50 channels that they don't watch. As a result, consumers are paying more per month for content they never watch.
"This is unfair and wrong — especially when you consider how the regulatory deck is stacked in favor of industry and against the American consumer," McCain said.
The cable industry has for years fought against offering a la carte pricing for TV shows or even channels. And in a statement following the introduction of McCain's bill, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association said it would not benefit anyone, even consumers, to move to such a model.