Washington

McCain a la Carte Bill Gets Lead Co-Sponsor

Blumenthal becomes first Democratic colleague to sign on to unbundling effort 7/23/2013 02:07:16 PM Eastern

It has been a couple months since Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced his a la carte bill, but it has just secured its first Democratic co-sponsor in Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

Blumenthal said Tuesday (July 23) he had agreed to be co-lead sponsor on the Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013.

"Consumers should not have to pay for programming they don't want or watch," Blumenthal said. "The current antiquated, antidemocratic system imposes all-or-nothing cable packages that give consumers no control over their cable bill, and prevents subscribers from voting with their feet when they are unhappy," he said in announcing his support.

The bill was introduced to much fanfare, but handicappers see slim to no chance of the legislation making it to the president's desk.

McCain's bill would require programmers to make their channels available to cable operators on an a la carte basis, and would not allow the bundling of co-owned cable channels and TV stations in carriage negotiations, while also getting rid of the sports blackout rule for stadiums built with any public money. It would also require a broadcaster to deliver the identical signal to cable operators as the one they deliver over the air -- with a carveout for local commercials -- or have their license pulled and their spectrum reassigned.

"Senator Blumenthal is standing up for millions of cable customers by co-sponsoring the Television Consumer Freedom Act," said Free Press Action Fund president and CEO Craig Aaron in a statement. "This bill would help consumers everywhere who are paying high prices for dozens -- sometimes hundreds -- of channels they don't want and will never watch."

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