Senate Commerce Committee chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) wrote a letter
Friday to the CEOs of the top five cable companies citing the new Cablevision
Systems Corp./Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network deal as one that
"appears to provide consumers with more choice over programming and more control
over their cable rates."
The high-profile fight over Yankees carriage resulted in a deal that, in some
cases, allows YES and other sports services to be spun off into a separate tier,
rather than made part of the basic service.
"I challenge you," McCain wrote, "to provide your customers with similar
choices, especially with respect to the most expensive programming, like sports,
that continues to drive up cable rates."
McCain has been Congress' most outspoken critics of cable rates and capping
prices if the industry does not do it itself.
The letter was sent to Brian Roberts, president, Comcast Corp.; Glenn Britt,
chairman and CEO, Time Warner Cable; Carl Vogel, president and CEO, Charter
Communications Inc.; James Robbins, president and CEO, Cox Communications Inc.;
and Bill Schleyer, chairman and CEO, Adelphia Communications
McCain found an ally in the American Cable Association, which represents small and midsized systems.
The ACA, too, praised the Cablevision/YES deal Monday, urging McCain and Congress to "give smaller market consumers this right by requiring sports programmers to make their services available on a tiered or a la carte basis."