John McCain Wants Americans to Be Able to Pick Their Own Damn Television Channels

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Are you an alpha male whose gonads shrivel up every time you see the Lifetime channel? A radical environmentalist who faints at the sight of a Formula One race? Do you just vomit instantly upon hearing the voices of Bill O'Reilly or Rachel Maddow?

Don't worry, folks, Senator John McCain's here for all of us television-addicted nimrods.

See also:
-John McCain Breaks Up a Fight
-McCain's Gravy

McCain has introduced the "Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013," which he hopes leads to cable consumers being able to pick and choose which channels they want, instead of this channel "bundle" nonsense that forces you to pay for channels you will never, ever watch.

Here's the prime example cited by McCain Thursday on the Senate floor:

"According to a January 2012 Newsweek article, ESPN charges roughly $4.69 per household per month citing research from SNL Kagan. By comparison, the next costliest national network, TNT, takes in $1.16 from about as many homes. So whether you watch ESPN or not, and admittedly I do all the time, all cable subscribers are forced to absorb this cost. For instance, because these channels are bundled into packages, all cable consumers, whether they watch sports or not, are paying for them anyway. Cable and satellite carriers that consider dropping ESPN must also contemplate losing other channels in the bundle, like the Disney Channel.

"Some have described this as a 'a tax on every American household.' Others, like the CEO of the American Cable Association, have said, 'My next-door neighbor is 74, a widow. She says to me, "Why do I have to get all that sports programming?" She has no idea that in the course of a year, for just ESPN and ESPN2, she is sending a check to Disney for about $70. She would be apoplectic if she knew . . . Ultimately, there's going to be a revolt over the cost. Or policymakers will get involved, because the costs of these things are so out of line with cost of living that someone's going to put up a stop sign.'

However, McCain defined the bill as requiring "no mandates, regulations, and is entirely voluntary."

Still, McCain went on to define the incentive the programming distributors would have to do so.

Perhaps the best part of McCain's bill is a section that bans "blackouts" of sporting events on TV if the venue or team is publicly financed.

Watch McCain's full explanation below:



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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.




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29 comments
teknik
teknik

what I hate is havng to pay for cable tv, which hooks up to zero TVs in my house, simply to have fast Internet.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

Here's the easy expanation for why this this bill and why now.  Per opensecrets.org, ATT is the second largest contributitor to McCain during the 2011/2012 cycle with $48,500 from ATT to the McCain, $1,000 from Execs to McCain and $47,500 from ATT PACs to McCain.  McCain's campaign received close to $100,000 from ATT during the 2011/12 cycle.  ATT's U-Verse has been involved in a number of high profile carriage disputes with content providers, including regional sports channels and national content providers like Scripps (Lifetime, Food Network) and AMC.  Even bigger, though, this past January Disney forced a renegotiation with ATT (as its doing with all other cable providers) to up the fees that ATT pays Disney and require ATT to carry 70 Disney properties.  This bill appears to be ATT's efforts to prevent content providers from forcing a cable tv company to carry every property owned by the content provider and for $100,000 in campaign controbuitions, Mccain was more than happy to oblige.  I still think that this legislation  would result in a better outcome for consumers, but McCain isn't advancing the bill just because he's a good guy who's looking out for you and I.

Reggievv
Reggievv

Although it is rare I would agree with the Senile One, its hard to argue against a cable subscriber being able to pick only those they want in a bundle. The economic model for sports TV now is many unwilling and unknowing paying for sports channels. ESPN is by far the biggest bully in cable TV. Baseball is especially dependent on this with an unsustainable economic model. However the skeptic in my says McCain is not doing this for nothing. There is too much trend in American business toward the product manufacture moved to China, and miraculously the item is the same price, or New, more convenient size, means smaller and the same price.

IdontRecall
IdontRecall

Anybody who thinks that this WARMONGER is trying to do this for the "GOOD OF THE CITIZENRY", BIG MISTAKE. Probably He has some of those Cable Companies already aligned to make some contributions to Him for introducing this "Television Consumer Freedom Act". See, He just comes, creates the controversy and sits back to wait for the other ones to call Him, this way He might have plenty of where to pick from, and get the one that could offer the best "contribution" for the trouble He went through in thinking about that Act and forget the whole thing. Perhaps he even get some free advertising for His brew co. DIG IT?

sarum
sarum

I dunno for sure but we have not been able to get ANY TV service if we don't purchase cable whereas talking to people in other states - they still can get some decent channels even if they have not purchased cable.  So, yeah - it is an issue if you want to be a boob tube watcher - Soma vs. Occupy.   

Gregarious Raptopoulos
Gregarious Raptopoulos

For once I agree with McCain on something, but describing the current bill structure as a tax is fairly ignorant about exactly what constitutes a tax.

don.dodondo
don.dodondo

Not a fan of McCain, but I agree with this bill, if all I want is ESPN why should I be forced to pay for 500 other channels I have no interest in supporting?  Honestly, this will have a positive impact for consumers all around because it will substantially increase competition among the various channels which should lower prices and possibly improve the content.

royalphoenix
royalphoenix

I cut the cable/satellite 5 years ago, and other than missing a few live sporting events, I have not missed it.

Flyer9753
Flyer9753 topcommenter

Wow John, way to concentrate your time on something really worthwhile. 

I'm not saying this would not be a good piece of legislation but with all the problems we have in this country right now, I think we have a few more important things for our Congresspeople to concentrate on than their/our TV programming

This is why congress has the most abysmal approval rating of all time right now, concentrating on the small stuff rather than addressing the problems the people want addressed.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

This is GREAT!  It's not the alpha-male that wants to be in control of his TV stations, its everyone.  I pay for so many channels that have nothing on that I ever watch and each one contributes to the overall cost of my cable bill.  Not only does Disney own the ESPN properties, it owns the A+E properties, the Lifetime properties, the ABC properties and the Disney Channel properties.  So in order for a cable company to be able to purchase ESPN for its subscribers, Disney makes the cable company also purchase A+E properties or Lifetime properties, regardless of whether the cable company wants those channels or not.  That means that in addition to the $4.69 per subscriber cost for ESPN, the cable company also has to pay the per subscriber/per channel fee for the other properties.  If this bill passes it has the potential to save consumers a LOT of money so I'm not sure its something that I'd be sarcastic about.

squash
squash

Shouldn't the headline be "John McCain Wants Americans to Be Able to Pick Their Own 'Dang' Television Channels?" Just sayin.. ;)

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

@Flyer9753 Plus, how many anti-abortion bills have been introduced in the House of Representatives during the current Congress? About 30, give or take a few. And they get debated in committee, the sponsors knowing full well that they will not even be considered by the Senate. It's a complete waste of time and money. Abortion is just one example among many.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@Flyer9753 For low income consumers this is actually a big deal.  The average cable bill in the U.S. is $78/month or $1000/year.  That's a big chunk of discretionary income to someone making $40K/year.  The move is on to charge even more - for instance Pac12 sports used to be generally available on Fox Sports AZ and on the broadcast networks.  But now they've formed their own network and estimates are that they want $.80-$1.25/subscriber for it.  In LA, the Lakers and the Dodgers have each formed their own networks are demand $3-$4 per subscriber each for them.  Why should someone who has no interest in them have to pay an extra $10/month to get Pac12, Dodgers & Lakers (why anyone would want the Dodgers period is beyond me).  The SEC just announced the creation of its own network - how much do you think that they are going to charge for access to SEC football.  This is actually a bigger consumer issue than I think you realize.  (I used to be in this industry so I'm familiar with these issues).

yourproductsucks
yourproductsucks

@JohnQ.Public I can't help but be sceptical of the outcome of this if it passes.  Corporations aren't taxed, consumers are.  Any time legislation supporting consumers is passed, corporations find a way to backdoor the legislation and the consumer continues taking it in the shorts.  ESPN isn't going to lose money in this venture and neither are Cable providers.  It will become a pay for play and the cost will be significant. 

This may be the catapult that pushes me to cutting cable out of the budget completely.  It's that damn Game of Thrones that keeps me coming back!

shadeaux14
shadeaux14

@JoeArpaioFan Of course you like Fox News Jaffy.  They use small simple words that people with "Sqeeky" minds can understand.

Flyer9753
Flyer9753 topcommenter

@JohnQ.Public 

I think you hit the nail on the head:

" For low income consumers this is actually a big deal.  The average cable bill in the U.S. is $78/month or $1000/year.  That's a big chunk of discretionary income to someone making $40K/year."

If someone is on that low an income, try using rabbit ears instead of spending money on a luxury. When I fit into the category of a low income consumer, as we all do at some point in our lives, I saved and managed my money so I could get out of that category, instead of spending my time watching a luxury, especially when there were and are other free options available.

I am not saying this is not a good idea, I as well currently work with several media companies and do know that the pricing structures on cable/satelitte TV are bullshit, however I think that there are a few more important things like getting our troops home from a war that never should have happened in the first place and should not have lasted 10 years. 

Or background check legislation that actually does some good and is supported by 75%+ of the American people. Yes I know he did vote for the checks but since it did not pass, how about spending time working on his fellow congresspeople like Flake and the others to get it to pass?

As I stated, I'm not saying this is not a good idea, but I think it's legislation that is a lot lower on the totem pole of things we need to address and the order in which we need to address them.

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

@JokeArpaioFan SQUEAKY clean, right? Is everyone misspelling the word here for some reason? But seriously, since the McCain bill doesn't require the cable/satellite companies to do anything (it's all voluntary), why are we even discussing this?

squash
squash

@MisterE You have got to be kidding me. You haven't met JAF yet? He's definitely  a character, that's for sure.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@Flyer9753 @JohnQ.Public I don't disagree that there are very important things that Congress should be working on like the issues that you mentioned, but since this one actually helps consumers intead of screwing them (although I suspect that this is being pushed by the cable companies so that they can be the ones to screw us instead of the content providers being the ones to screw us), I'm OK with McCain pursuing this one.

MisterE
MisterE

@squash @MisterE Believe me I have read his comments for a very long time now. I am a long time reader of PNT. JAFfy is a pinhead ,imo.

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