John McCain Plans To Introduce A Bill That Could Revolutionize The Cable Industry

People, in general, do not like politicians. But people — again, in general — really, really do not like their cable provider, so this one probably falls under “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Here’s what happened: John McCain said he plans to introduce a bill in the near future that will essentially tear apart the current cable and broadcast television industry by pushing providers to allow subscribers to choose channels a la carte instead of as part of a larger package, among other things.

McCain’s bill would, in addition to urging cable providers toward a la carte pricing, ban the bundling of broadcast stations with cable channels owned by the same entities. This would, for example, keep Disney from requiring that cable providers pay for ESPN in order to carry ABC. The bill also puts an end to the sports blackout rule, which keeps companies from carrying a sports event if the game is blocked out locally.

Notably, McCain’s bill also includes a provision that would punish broadcasters who pull high-value content from over-the-air television in order to put it on cable channels. This section of the bill is aimed at broadcast television networks that have said they would do just that if U.S. courts do not stop Aereo, a service that rebroadcasts their channels to subscribers’ iPads and iPhones over the Internet.

McCain has introduced this kind of legislation before and it has gotten nowhere, as you and the 200 mostly useless channels you have to skip through to get from TNT to HBO are probably aware. But even if it does get somewhere this time, I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for dramatically lower bills or sweeping change. Maybe I’m just a cynical guy, but whenever I read stuff like this I immediately start trying to figure out how I’m going to get screwed by it. Cable companies and media conglomerates are not in the business of losing money. I’m sure they’ll figure out a way to get the same $100+ per month out of you somehow, even if they have to come to your house and hold your dog at gunpoint.

But the stuff about ending sports blackouts and preventing broadcasters from taking their ball and going home every time some new form of technology comes along and makes life difficult for them? That sounds A-OK to me.

(Via Apple Insider)