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McCain to introduce a la carte bill in the Senate

Thu, 05/25/2006 - 7:58am
Brian Santo, CED

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) will introduce a bill mandating that cable operators offer channels on an a la carte basis. A la carte is the only solution to the problem of rising cable bills, McCain said in a Los Angeles Times op-ed piece, co-signed by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. 

McCain offered three justifications for the bill: competition, protecting consumers from rising prices, and protecting families from having to accept channels they consider inappropriate for children.

McCain cited an FCC statistic that consumers could lower their monthly cable bill by as much as 13 percent if they had a la carte programming options. He also observed that forms of a la carte have been successfully offered by providers in Hong Kong, Canada, Britain and India.

McCain's op-ed piece ignored the pricing policies of individual networks, and that some owners of popular networks demand operators accept additional, less popular channels in a bundle.

There is also speculation that the telcos might be advocating for a la carte as a negotiating lever against networks as they roll out their own TV services.

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