This afternoon Senator John McCain (R-AZ) introduced legislation (The Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013) that would completely upend the television business.
There aren’t many things that can unite News Corp., Turner Broadcasting, NBC, CBS and Disney, but stopping this legislation is sure to be one of them.
In a nutshell, McCain’s legislation would allow cable, satellite and telco companies to unbundle TV channels, either selling them “a la carte” or in smaller bundles (think a “sports” bundle). It would also prohibit media conglomerates from shifting popular programming from free over the air networks to cable channels (think the NCAA basketball championship being shared between CBS, which is free, and Turner Sports, which is on cable).
McCain, speaking on the Senate floor, noted that the cost of cable has gone up 4X more than the purchasing power of U.S. consumers, thanks largely to the ever-increasing bundles which force cable companies to carry “Nat Geo Wild” if they want Fox News, or “Cloo” if they want USA Network.
“It is unfair and wrong, especially when you consider how the regulatory deck is stacked in favor of the industry, and against the consumer,” McCain said.