A few more details were emerging about the a la carte bill in the works from veteran cable price critic Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and it is said to include an Aereo-friendly provision that would require the FCC to auction the spectrum of a broadcaster who tried to move its must-have programming to cable.
According to multiple sources, the bill would tie a la carte to the compulsory license and get rid of the sports blackout rule as well as the provision that could provide a boost to Aereo architect Barry Diller if the court's uphold the legality of his TV station online delivery system.
Some broadcast networks, all major station group owners and most notably Fox, have intimated (and more) that they might have to move their high-value broadcast programming to cable if Aereo is allowed to deliver over-the-air broadcasts to subscribers of its online video service without compensating those broadcasters.
Diller/Aereo argue they are just supplying online versions of the free over-the-air broadcasters their customers are entitled to.
Cable and broadcasts lobbyists were briefed on the bill by McCain staffers on Tuesday (May 7), according to the cable and broadcast sources. The bill is expected to be introduced in advance of next week's state of video oversight hearing in the Senate Communications Subcommittee.
The bill would give cable and satellite operators the option of offering a la carte service or losing the the blanket license that allows them to carry broadcast programming without having to negotiate individually for rights to carry the programming.
It would also do away with the FCC's sports blackout rule, according to multiple sources. That rule prevents cable or satellite providers from carrying an NFL game when the over-the-air broadcast is blacked out due to lack of attendance at the game.