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Television Government Republicans

John McCain Working On Legislation For 'a La Carte' TV Channel Packages 614

An anonymous reader writes "John McCain, Republican Senator for Arizona and former U.S. presidential candidate, is drafting a new bill that would pressure TV providers to allow customers to select and pay for only the channels they want to watch. The bill will also '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.' Perhaps most importantly, the bill could 'end the sports blackout rule, which prohibits cable companies from carrying a sports event if the game is blacked out on local broadcast television stations.' This would hamstring the ludicrous practice of blacking out TV broadcasts in order to drive fans to buy actual tickets to a game. The cable and satellite TV industry is expected to push back very strongly against the bill."
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John McCain Working On Legislation For 'a La Carte' TV Channel Packages

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  • Sounds good. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 10, 2013 @11:38AM (#43685445)

    Wont pass though.

    • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @11:44AM (#43685539)
      Depends on how it's framed. If they write the bill so it's all about finding out who orders Telemundo so they can be deported I think it would get a lot of support.
      • Re:Sounds good. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @11:45AM (#43685551) Homepage Journal

        oh, B.S.

        Figure out a way to make some fatass executive rich off of it.. THEN it will pass.

        • Re:Sounds good. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @12:19PM (#43686019) Homepage Journal

          "Some fatass executive will figure out a way to get rich off of it.. THEN it won't matter if it passed."

          There, fixed that for ya.

    • Re:Sounds good. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @11:54AM (#43685679) Homepage Journal

      I don't care if it passes. The fact is that it would be too-little too-late for me to care about television anymore. The advertisements you pay for, the terrible reality television, the death of educational programming, and the underlying vacuousness, even if they were partially caused by "free money" streams from package deals, aren't going to be reversed by suddenly making them fight for the percentage of their audience who will take advantage of this.

      TV is dead, and the small pieces of legitimately good television can be gotten through the internet. It's too late to save cable.

      • Re:Sounds good. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 1000101 ( 584896 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @12:44PM (#43686327)
        Really? I just renewed my DirecTV 2 year contract. I tried really, really hard to 'cut the cord' (or in this case 'ditch the dish') but after careful study, I found with a family of four, including two children, this just won't work. I thought some combination of XBox, Hulu, Netflix, and OTA HDTV would suffice but there is one glaring flaw with this: Ease of Use. See, my wife isn't a techie. She wants to turn on the TV from a remote with one button (which then turns on the stereo, selects the proper input, etc.) and then have a GUIDE for everything she might want to watch right now or record in the future. We have 2 DirecTV HD-DVR's that are on the network, so we can record 4 shows at once (we never do) and watch these shows from any of the other non-DVR's in our house. It is simple. It works. And there isn't a solution available (that I could find) that would aggregate all of the available shows into one, easy to use guide for selections. I do watch sports, and losing those would be the only reason I would potentially not switch if I were single because I wouldn't mind using different systems for different things.
        • And there isn't a solution available (that I could find) that would aggregate all of the available shows into one, easy to use guide for selections. I do watch sports, and losing those would be the only reason I would potentially not switch if I were single because I wouldn't mind using different systems for different things.

          Depending on how agressive DirecTV pushes the channels to allow more content on its "DirecTV Everywhere" service, that will also make people more resistant to cord cutting.

          Right now, the selection on DirecTV Everywhere is limited for both live and "on demand", but if it expands so that you could have a decent percentage of live programs (for sports, news, etc.) and still have the ability to copy to a device for offline viewing, that would make it quite a deal, since it doesn't have any addtional fees (at l

        • Re:Sounds good. (Score:4, Informative)

          by MMC Monster ( 602931 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @02:31PM (#43687553)

          Screw all that. Do what I did:

          1. Download XBMC and install it on your desktop computer. Play around with the plugins and add the repository for the repository installer plugin.

          2. Download via XBMC the plugins for Free Cable, Hulu, You Tube, and whatever other video plugins look good. From the previous step you shouldn't have to add any repositories on via their websites, you can do it via the repository installer plugin.

          3. Once you get things working fine on the previous step, get a nettop PC to put by your TV and use a remote control to control (this one: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0041ULKW2/ref=oh_details_o04_s00_i01?ie=UTF8&psc=1 [amazon.com] is great as it comes with a remote and built in IR receiver and can turn itself on via the remote as well.)

          4. Cut out the Video part of your cable bill and just get a reasonable download speed on your internet (the cheapest level is probably enough).

          Hopefully at this point you'll be able to control XBMC via the remote control and never have to touch the nettop computer again.

    • When it does pass, it'll be too little too late. A few years ago, I really wished my cable company would let me subscribe to only the channels I wanted. I thought, "Why should I have to pay for all these channels? Why can't I just pay for the channels I want?"

      Now I think, "Why should I have to pay for a whole channel? Why can't I just pay for the shows I want?"

      But they're already on the verge of missing that boat, too. I'm starting to think, "Why should I have to pay for all these shows? Why can't t

    • Re:Sounds good. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @01:38PM (#43686963)

      Why a Republican Bill. This seems to go against the core Republican Ideals of less government and regulation.

      By saying to a Company you must offer goods and services this way, where the old way has no effect of health safety, for a product that is almost purely entertainment. Looks like big Government getting involved with the Corporations again.

      Granted I would love the ability to have this, but I don't see this as needing a federal mandate. I figure competition from Online streaming would force the companies to change.

      My guess TV Producers such as Fox has been in his ear, Because for the big producers will get all the stations while the newer smaller stations may not become popular enough to get noticed.

      • Why a Republican Bill. This seems to go against the core Republican Ideals of less government and regulation.

        Shocked! I'm SHOCKED, I say. To think that McCain would do something against the core Republican ideas. But, just remember the other name on the Feingold campaign finance legislation that puts ridiculous limits on free speech, then you won't be so shocked.

        There is nothing ludicrous about a network bundling. It's a contract between two companies that are free to agree or not. The government should stick its nose out.

        Even if this law passes, it will be just as effective as all the other cable regulation. F

  • Finally!! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I can have my dream package of just home shopping networks, pay-per-view previews and c-span!

    • Get the basic basic cable package, the one you don't need a box for. I do and I get all that plus local broadcasts, WGN, and Discovery (I have no idea why they show me Pay-Per-View previews, I can't order them). That's it. WGN might be a little too stimulating for you though...

    • Since those are the networks that create revenue for the cable companies, would that mean that they would pay you to sign up?
  • by Dr. Spork ( 142693 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @11:40AM (#43685461)
    I have a feeling this will all be moot soon. Youtube are about to unveil subscription channels, and we already have Hulu, Netflix, etc. All we need is an idiot-proof box for the living room so that grandma can surf all these channels with her "clicker" and we'll forget there ever was such a thing as cable tv.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Whats TV?

      Oh I know, it's that thing old people talk about.

      What is this, Korea?

    • Do you think the cable companies (who are largely owned by the major players in the copyright lobby) are ever going to allow that to happen?

      They'll fight that tooth and nail, and pay off enough lawmakers to get what they want.

      If ever such a magic box exists, it will be locked down and entirely controlled by the media industry, and set up to guarantee them ad revenue and deny you any rights. Then we'll be right back where we are now.

      • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

        You'd think so, and they'll certainly try, but in the end, they won't be able to stop it forever. It will just delay the inevitable.

        • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @12:06PM (#43685859) Homepage

          I'd like to believe that, but what I've seen over the last bunch of years says that the copyright and media groups are winning the battle, and lawmakers are all too willing to give them what they want.

          Between the DMCA, seemingly indefinite copyrights, and everything else, I don't see how we're going to make this inevitable.

          It's beginning to look more like a world where the media companies control everything is inevitable.

    • I came here to post exactly this. Conventional TV channels need to appreciate that technology has created a viable alternative and, like it or not, they have to compete with it. Most of our terrestrial channels know this and have launched catch-up and/or live TV apps on a decent range of platforms, that carry advertising to pay the bills. I'm quite pleased to see that even Sky, that bastion of awfulness, has come to terms with the fact that its business model may be ending and has launched a streaming (live

      • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

        Bullshit, if sky or any of your networks had smartend up I would be able to get their apps here in North America.

        I will pay the TV tax today if you let me access iPlayer. Here that BBC? Here that Populace of the UK? You could let us foreigners pay your TV tax and have that much more funding or lower the tax on yourselves.

  • by hbean ( 144582 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @11:42AM (#43685489)
    I gotta admit, I just took a Nelson rating diary survey, and all its done is made me realize how much I'd like to cancel my increasingly expensive cable service. I watched maybe 8 hours of broadcast TV during the week I kept the diary.
    • Fiber is coming to my city in the next year or so and I am waiting on pins and needles to sign up. I'll be the first in line because cable cost has increased around 100% in the last few years. I only watch less than 5 channels but because of tiering I have to get 3 or so different packages.

      That's how they make their money and this is why this bill will probably not even get to a committee hearing.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @11:44AM (#43685527)

    The idea of a la carte pricing for cable tv is probably nearly as old as cable tv. They've been talking about it forever and never getting shit done.

    About 3 years ago I gave up and became a cord-cutter - internet only for everything. I don't give a damn about pro sports (bread and circuses) so it has worked out great for me. Now if only I didn't have to buy my internet access from a company that is also a cable-tv provider...

    • I've found it's a very slight advantage to have the cable TV company (TWC) as my ISP. I get free basic cable with my Internet access, which is on par with all of the other ISPs around here for price, reliability, support, etc.

      • If you live in the USA and have access to more than one high-speed internet provider you are exceptionally lucky. Most people have to choose between catv or dsl and dsl doesn't qualify as high-speed anymore.

    • The underlying issue is that you have a plurality of monopolies handling your TV services. If US TV companies had to compete with each other in the same region, it would generally encourage competitive action like this, but more specifically, it would offer one provider an incentive to offer its exclusive channels a la carte to subscribers of the other service (via streaming, for example) as a way of scooping up at least some revenue from those customers.

  • You tube is coming with specialized channels at $ 1 per month (hopefully i'll get all the sports i'm interested like world-football/ MLS etc) along with netflix/amazon-prime for series/movies (i don't care if i am a few season behind) ...i'm good.

  • The answer to too much government is more government.

  • Who cares? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @11:52AM (#43685647)

    This is too little too late. Forget saving these dinosaurs, I want to see them crash and burn.

  • by seebs ( 15766 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @11:54AM (#43685661) Homepage

    I have about a 50-50 chance of strongly liking or strongly disliking legislation he proposes.

    I'm sort of assuming that he's going to eventually turn this in a proposal to require unbundling of both cable packages and Constitutional rights.

  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @11:55AM (#43685683)

    I've always been mildly surprised that no one has argued that channel bundling violates Section 3 of the Clayton Antitrust Act [wikipedia.org]. Basically the networks and cable companies are engaged in tying [wikipedia.org] which can in some circumstances be illegal. While it may be legal in this case it seems to exist right on the edge of legality. I've never been convinced of the argument that channel bundling is in the best interest of the consumers and it certainly is only possible due to the market power of the companies involved.

  • TV volume and a la carte TV channel selection. These are the things their constituents really care about. It's about time they did something.
    • by moeinvt ( 851793 )

      TV? Important? Nonsense! What we urgently need is the next round of hearings about performance enhancing drugs in professional sports!

  • With so many issues facing our nation, this is the retarded shit they are focusing on? Al-la-cart TV channels and Commercial Volume [slashdot.org]

    No wonder we are a country of ignorant fat ass's and the rest of the world hates us.

  • Missing a supporter. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @12:04PM (#43685831)

    There's another reason McCain is behind this: A la carte cable is a very popular idea with the social conservative faction that holds a lot of influence within the republican party. The FRC has frequently put out a public call for something like this. Their motivation is in obscenity and indecency: They really don't like the idea that good christian conservatives have to pay for the raunchy entertainment and liberal media channels because they happen to be in the same bundle as the Disney channel and Fox news.

  • by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @12:24PM (#43686101)

    Cable has become a joke! It's Springsteen's 57 channels times TEN today. The major content providers are extorting the service providers because they know it's an all-or-nothing deal. Even though maybe only 1/3 of customers watch ESPN, no service provider can reject the entire ESPN suite because they know that's a deal-breaker. And the major content providers use that as an excuse to package 3-4 satellite channels that show the same content and charge more.

    It's insane that I can surf through dozens of channels and see nothing but crap on. With a la carte, content providers will HAVE to produce quality and not rely on being a filler dial number. I could care less if 1/2 of the stations go away. And, the bullies like ESPN (I think averaging about $8/mo of your cable bill) won't have service providers by the nuts any more.

Real Programmers don't write in PL/I. PL/I is for programmers who can't decide whether to write in COBOL or FORTRAN.