John McCain wants to get all mavericky on bundling.

I don’t think this is going to sit well at all with the guys running football networks.

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.

Consumers have long complained about the rising costs of cable TV packages and having to pay for dozens or even hundreds of channels just to gain access to the few that they watch.

But McCain’s legislation, which he is expected to introduce in the coming days, will likely face furious opposition from both the TV broadcasters and cable providers.

‘Ya think?  That would make for a very bad hair day for Jim Delany.  But that’s not all.

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.

Ouch.  You can’t do that to the World Wide Leader!

The NFL is going to go ape shit over this, assuming it ever makes it out of committee to achieve Defcon 1 status, so I doubt it ever gets close to being a real threat.  But it sure would make for some great grandstanding if it ever did.  Not that senators go in for that kind of thing.


Filed under Political Wankery

26 responses to “John McCain wants to get all mavericky on bundling.

  1. Macallanlover

    The TV broadcasters and cable companies may be furious about it but politicians may have found one issue this polarized country of voters can all agree on….and that is too tempting for them to ignore. Changes to the way providers have to do business is coming, and it will be soon. Universities and conferences should be cautious with these long term financial commitments, the financial windfalls of the past few years are likely to last the length of many of these contracts.


  2. Dog in Fla

    Miss Lindsey (R-SC) said she felt victimized by her BFF not telling her on the Sunday morning cartoon shows that he was going to man up to attack the Disney channel conglomerate. Miss Lindsey now knows how they felt in Benghazi.


  3. Joe Schmoe

    Distribution of content via the internet is going to kill the current paradigm of cable distribution before the US gov’t does.


  4. Bobby

    But what about the free market?


    • Go Dawgs!

      Yeah, I thought the GOP didn’t believe in government regulating anything at all, much less how a company sells its products. Oh right, except for when it suits them. Sorry.


  5. The other Doug

    Get ready for some serious money to flow into some PACs on both sides of the aisle!


    • 69Dawg

      That’s what it really boils down to money to buy votes > than just getting votes the old fashioned way by earning them.


      • uglydawg

        The TV providers and broadcasters need to cool it….Don’t they understand McCain needs to pass this bill so they can see what’s in it?


  6. Jon Lovitz

    A la carte. That’s the ticket!!!


  7. Dubyadee

    I actually like this, though we have to know that it will be bad for sports viewers. The biggest subsidy arising under the bundling system is:

    Non-ESPN Watchers—->Espn Watchers

    Still, I’d strongly consider stepping down my cable plan in the offseason. If this passes, we’ll find out just how (un)popular hockey playoffs and early season baseball really are.



    Oh, Alacarte sounds great, until you run the numbers and you realize you can get ALL the channels for a few bucks more. All those channels that sell stuff, they PAY to be on TV…so they help offset the ones that charge.

    This sounds much better than it is.


  9. Cosmic Dawg

    I’ve never understood the argument that business should be prohibited from packaging something people DON’T want with something they DO want. All it really means is you raised the price of the thing they want – who cares what the mechanism is? When you raise it enough, they’ll quit buying it.


    • Hackerdog

      That’s why you can’t be a politician. You have to believe that you know better than both businesses and consumers. There’s no such thing as unintended consequences.


  10. W Cobb Dawg

    Disney must be behind on their racketeering payments. Just a political stunt to spur more campaign contributions.


  11. Sanford222View

    I work for a Cable TV provider and would welcome this legislation if the Broadcasters/Networks weren’t allowed to force us to buy their programming bundled. We have to purchase so many unpopular channels to get the few popular channels a network may offer it is ridiculous. From an administrative standpoint it would be somewhat of a pain to create all the custom channel maps for each customer to only receive the channels they want but the technology is out there to get that piece done.

    The only part the consumer would not like about this, if it does come to be, would be the cost to of sports programming. Sports programming is the highest dollar content and if you don’t have all the customers who don’t watch ESPN, for example, subsidizing the cost for those that do you will see that channel and other sports channels being really expensive.


    • Macallanlover

      I agree. If the ESPN cost is currently around $5 per month, it will be a huge increased cost to those who have to pay the total nut when the non-sports fans are de-coupled. The big beneficiary might be sports bars, or fans getting together to share costs on a pay-per-view basis to avoid the $50 per month ESPN fee. The Dims may have been ahead of themselves, lots of guys may be moving in with each other just to share the ESPN bill.


  12. Sanford222View

    The author of that article doesn’t give an accurate example of how the networks force the bundles actually. ABC and ESPN aren’t tied to each other in those contracts. Most Cable TV providers pay for the ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC content with re-transmission fees to the local affiliate. What ESPN does is make you purchase all its channels and they also dictate what packages it is to be offered in as well as where all its channels have to be positioned in relation to each other in the channel line up.

    ABC is a part of the cost of Cable and Satellite TV prices going up because of re-transmission costs from the local DMA affiliates. What the local stations in say Macon call “Free TV” they charge the cable providers a fee to provide to our customers (who they in many cases couldn’t reach without the Cable TV provider) that went up about 200% the last negotiation period.
    Providers have no bargaining power with the local affiliates because the FCC won’t allow us to shop for that content from other providers. You have to get it from the DMA you are located in geographically. For example, if I don’t like the price I am negotiating with the Macon station I can’t get it from Columbus instead.


  13. Slaw Dawg

    Dang, McCain might actually do something I like! But the reality is, if he succeeds, then the cable tv guys will start charging us BY THE CHANNEL. Hmmm…might be worth if I can get rid of Lifetime…