dslreports logo
site
spacer

spacer
 
   
spc
story category
McCain Finds Co-Sponsor For His A La Carte TV Bill
by Karl Bode 02:35PM Thursday Jul 25 2013
Back in May, John McCain introduced the Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013. The Act would require that broadcasters provide channels on an a la carte basis to cable operators (and therefore you). The bill would also ban the bundling of co-owned cable channels and TV stations in carriage negotiations, and eliminate the sports blackout rule for teams that play in stadiums funded by public money.

Most interestingly perhaps, the Act would also punish those broadcasters who have been whining about moving their broadcast stations to cable if Aereo isn't defeated in court. Under McCain's bill, and broadcaster who attempted that would lose their broadcast license and have that spectrum auctioned off.

Though the bill hasn't seen much traction since being announced last May, McCain does now have a co-sponsor in Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). According to an announcement by Blumenthal, he's joining the fight to give consumers more control over their cable options and their monthly bill.

"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 prevent subscribers from voting with their feet when they are unhappy."

Given the fact that this would shake up a massive legacy industry with its lobbying tendrils deeply embedded in Congressional orifices, there's very little chance of the bill ever passing. The broadcast industry has been very successful in convincing people that introducing a la carte options will raise prices and kill niche channels, with a sad few people bothering to notice that this is happening anyway under our current bundled model.

view:
topics flat nest 
zod5000

join:2003-10-21
Victoria, BC
Reviews:
·Shaw

I like how this displays some knowledge of bundling....

Usually when I read about people complaining about high cable bills its focused on bundling and paying for a bunch of channels they don't watch. The anger and frustration over how expensive it is always seems directed at the cableco.

It's nice to see that government realizes that it goes beyond cableco's. The broadcasters will negotiate carriage terms that include bundling crappy channels with good ones. It lets them earn revenue on their less popular channels.

I like this bill. I wish we had something like it in Canada. I am surprised that the bill was introduce by John McCain?
Chuck_IV

join:2003-11-18
Connecticut

1 recommendation

Re: I like how this displays some knowledge of bundling....

This actually looks nice, but once the cable/broadcaster lobbyist machine gets fired up and starts tossing out the bribes to congress, this bill won't have a snowball's chance...

FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

2 edits

Re: I like how this displays some knowledge of bundling....

said by Chuck_IV:

This actually looks nice, but once the cable/broadcaster lobbyist machine gets fired up and starts tossing out the bribes to congress, this bill won't have a snowball's chance...

The latest on this bill:
»thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z···s.00912:

It sits in the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee chaired by Sen Rockefeller. If he isn't on board this bill goes nowhere.
»www.commerce.senate.gov/public/i···Chairman
»www.opensecrets.org/politicians/···e=Career
The 2nd biggest Rockefeller contributor is Time Warner, a big content producer.

And TV, Movies, & Music contributed $440,000 to his campaigns over the years.
»www.opensecrets.org/politicians/···5&type=I

TV/Movies/Music $440,652

--
"If you want to anger a conservative lie to him.
If you want to anger a liberal tell him the truth."

SHergenrader
Premium
join:2002-04-11
Shreveport, LA

1 recommendation

It always amazes me when I hear people complaining about how high their cable/satellite bill is but then when their cable/sat company stands up to these networks over higher fees they are furious towards the MSO and talk about switching to another provider. Switching doesn't help and will actually only make your bills higher since these networks are going to get their higher fees.
Angrychair

join:2000-09-20
Jacksonville, FL
said by zod5000:

I am surprised that the bill was introduce by John McCain?

Why are you asking us?

BrainBlown

@173.227.18.x
I think it is because both McCain and Blumenthal saw how much they are paying for TV services that got this going

88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness

2 recommendations

Careful what you wish for

Sorry but too many people have this almost childlike delusion that al a carte will be this wonderful TV utopia. For most they will be very disappointed with the results. I'm probably one of the few that would actually benefit form this ad I think it's a bad idea. Not that the system doesn't need some tweaking. The old saying "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" applies very much to al a carte
TBBroadband

join:2012-10-26
Fremont, OH
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse
·MegaPath

Re: Careful what you wish for

People will see what this will do when they see the true prices for channels, $4 for EACH local channel, $10 for just regular ESPN. NICK being $5 per channel. And if you pay for HBO, they probably won't be able to bundle all 10+ of their channels so you'll be paying $10 per HBO network now. Cable bills WILL go up.
Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO

Re: Careful what you wish for

Right... because you know this to be fact. If I am not mistaken the large dish companies did (do) a la carte channels and they all got along and profited fine. There have even been post here in the past by small cable companies that had a la carte pricing and they didnt seem to mind it so much.

Bottom line is that your assumptions of price is silly and the only one that is probably even close is ESPN and that channel will probably and should probably be closer to an HBO price, which I am fine with.

Forced a la carte does not remove bundles. They could also do # of channel bundle, theme bundle and other smaller/bigger bundle choices right along side of having ALL channels available a la carte. This all or nothing way of doing things based on how they force (negotiate) it upon the MSO's needs to change.

88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness

Re: Careful what you wish for

said by Skippy25:

Right... because you know this to be fact.

Listen take a channel like TNT which is one of the most popular cable channels. Now while popular you surely won't have 100% paying for it. For example as of last year TNT was going for $1.21 per sub. And that's with 100% paying for it. Now if only half the people subscribe to it they would obviously raise that to $2.42 under an al a carte system. If it's only 1/3 then it would go up to $3.63. TNT is no way is going to willingly make LESS money under an al a carte system. And if they can't make that lost revenue back on subscriber fees then you'll see worse programming( because it's cheaper ) on the channel, and more commercials, more infomercials. That's just the reality. And while everyone thinks "Yeah let the those niche channels go under if they can't support themselves" nearly EVERYONE watches at least one of those niche channels that will go away.

Look at it this way OTA is 100% free( outside the cost of the antenna )so it's like al a carte where you're not paying for channels you don't want. Ok why aren't more people going OTA only? Oh because the selection sucks. And while everyone says they don't watch ESPN the ratings during college football season/MNF says otherwise. And the $20 a month that ESPN will now cost will cost you more for the 4 months of college football/MNF you subscribe to ESPN for than just having things the way they are now.
biochemistry
Premium
join:2003-05-09
92361

Re: Careful what you wish for

They have been increasing prices while at the same time increasing commercial time for years. You're lucky if a 1 hour program has 40 minutes of the actual TV show. I remember not to long ago it was 45 minutes. The Star Trek TOS episodes that I have on Blu-Ray are actually 50 minutes long.

88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness

Re: Careful what you wish for

said by biochemistry:

They have been increasing prices while at the same time increasing commercial time for years. You're lucky if a 1 hour program has 40 minutes of the actual TV show. I remember not to long ago it was 45 minutes. The Star Trek TOS episodes that I have on Blu-Ray are actually 50 minutes long.

Yes and under al a carte it will get worse. I'm not sure which part of that you're not getting yet. People like you have this delusion that under al a carte that sort of thing stops when in fact the opposite occurs.
XJakeX

join:2005-03-05
Coventry, RI
said by 88615298:

said by Skippy25:

Right... because you know this to be fact.

Listen take a channel like TNT which is one of the most popular cable channels. Now while popular you surely won't have 100% paying for it. For example as of last year TNT was going for $1.21 per sub. And that's with 100% paying for it. Now if only half the people subscribe to it they would obviously raise that to $2.42 under an al a carte system.

I'm not so sure that's how it might go. Suppose you were manufacturing a product, and due to a captive audience, so to speak, you raised your prices every year or so, not necessarily because your costs were rising, but because you knew you could get away with it without losing customers. Then suddenly, that captive audience disappeared, and you started losing customers. Would you really think that raising the cost even more would bring those customers back? I doubt it. Knowing that you now had to actually compete in an open marketplace, you would be more likely to look for ways to cut costs, economize, and bring your ultimate cost to the consumer down to win them back.

That, of course, is what might happen in a normal free market situation. But even if the McCain bill passed, I would not be surprised to see the content providers ( or rather their small group of corporate parents) get together behind closed doors to fix pricing, to avoid having to actually compete on quality or service, like they had to for the broadcast TV industry's first 40 years. They have enjoyed the double ended cash cow of bundled pricing since cable took off in the 80's. They are not about to let that slip away easily.
Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO
And that is exactly how it should work in a free market. You trying to be a protectionist because you are afraid of change or because you dont want your stocks to go down is your choice. If they need to raise their rates to $50 per subscriber to continue to offer their, in your opinion, quality programming so be it. The market will decide. But what will really happen is that they will price it to what the market will bare and they will pay for content accordingly.

Every single niche channel can go away if they can't support themselves and what will actually happen is that shows that are popular will be picked up by channels that remain. If the show isnt popular, then it should go away as well. Which contradicts your quality claim.

You claim this will cause programming to get worse, I claim it will cause it to get better as the programs have to compete to get on less channels. Who is right? We dont know yet, but I would put money on me as there is evidence of this by HBO and Netflix having just "one" channel to air their original content on and to get customers to view and they have the Emmy nominations to stand behind it.

You can't use OTA as an argument because networks will ALWAYS put their content on channels they can then encourage people to buy. If they put all their good and popular stuff on the OTA channels few if anyone would have an incentive to buy cable or SAT service. I know I for one would only have OTA if the shows I watch are put on the national channels instead of being on USA or TNT. In all honesty, I am about to the point that I am going to stop watching the shows so I can save myself $100+ a month. It is just a matter of getting my wife to go along with it right now. But it is coming, just yesterday I turned off the home phone that she insisted just 1 year ago we must keep.
me1212

join:2008-11-20
Pleasant Hill, MO
Why would you not use your antenna for local channels? I'd be fine with a la cart even if each channel cost $5, I only watch 9 channels anyway so that would be about 1/2 of what my family pays now.

88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness

1 recommendation

Re: Careful what you wish for

said by me1212:

Why would you not use your antenna for local channels? I'd be fine with a la cart even if each channel cost $5, I only watch 9 channels anyway so that would be about 1/2 of what my family pays now.

A) OTA is not idea for many people. In my area you get in ONE channel reliably.

B) YOU watch only 9 channels. That's not reality for most. 9 x $5 is $45. Heck Digital Select tier through Charter in my area is only $15 more a month and you'd get in oh about 100 more channels than that.
Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO

Re: Careful what you wish for

A) Define many, as I think you are attempting to exaggerate that. Besides OTA isnt going to remain the only way to get these channels. They are fighting streaming now, but that is changing and eventually OTA and streaming will be a perfectly reliable way to get channels.

B) I would say 9 channels is probably pretty accurate for most, but we can agree to disagree on that even though I think a study published 6 months or showed it was 11. Either way, having 1 million extra channels for only $15 a month more doesnt add value to people who dont give a damn about the other 1 million channels. So your point in that is moot.
TBBroadband

join:2012-10-26
Fremont, OH
And many areas can NOT get OTAs. That's the problem. So actually with only 9 channels and $5 per channel; you'd still end up paying MORE than what you do now.
silbaco
Premium
join:2009-08-03
USA
It could very quickly become abused to deliver less channels for the same money. Sports fans could experience even a price increase. Anyone who thinks networks are going to take a loss in revenue are dreaming. If half of subscribers ditch a channel due to al a carte, the other half is going to pay more for that channel. Al a carte would also be a nice opening for a network to bundle their own digital streaming service and strip their content from other services.

Granted I still think it should be done. But the end result is probably not going to be a price decrease.
nfotiu

join:2009-01-25

1 recommendation

Re: Careful what you wish for

Sports channels are the problem. And it is great news that the bill goes after the back end bundling.

Sports channel prices can't go up too much and still get people to subscribe to them by choice.

A la carte on the backend will definitely kill the big tv rights deals rsn's are handing out right now, and a lot of that revenue will be removed from the system, and player's contracts will be corrected a little. These are all good things IMO.

Charging the 60,000 people who are watching the Dodger's $120-$180 a year is the fair model, charging 3 million who don't 70$ a year is a broken model that has to be fixed.

88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness

Re: Careful what you wish for

Except ESPN has some of their deals signed through the late 2020's. ESPN has no choice but to pay.
biochemistry
Premium
join:2003-05-09
92361

Re: Careful what you wish for

They should have thought about that while overpaying for sports programming during the last 10+ years.

88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness

Re: Careful what you wish for

said by biochemistry:

They should have thought about that while overpaying for sports programming during the last 10+ years.

They should thought about an al a carte bill being passed when they signed this contract when there was no realistic expectation of it? That's like you getting your car repoed because you lost your job and me telling you that you should have thought about that 4 years earlier when you first got the car even though at the time there wasn't any signal your job was in jeopardy.
biochemistry
Premium
join:2003-05-09
92361

Re: Careful what you wish for

Ok, Mr. Concrete Thinker. In colloquial English, the saying "they should have thought about that" is akin to "they are getting what they deserve", not whatever drawn you explanation you conceived.
NLiveris

join:2001-11-25
Chicago, IL

1 recommendation

Care to back that up with anything other than your opinion?

I pay $140 a month for the Tivo sitting my living room with all 28 of the movie channels and would absolutely love to ditch ESPN and the other 400 "niche" channels I never watch. Forced bundles seem very anti-consumer and with more public awareness, it should help reflect very poorly on those greedy broadcasters.
TBBroadband

join:2012-10-26
Fremont, OH
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse
·MegaPath

Re: Careful what you wish for

The question is- do you know how much your current provider pays for those channels or how much will they charge YOU for each channel? You still could end up paying more for TV than what you do. But what else do you get for the $140 per month? If that is just TV, other options are available.
desarollo

join:2011-10-01
Monroe, MI
It isn't child-like, many people see little value for the programming received. I don't. I am tired of week long benders of Pawn Stars and Deadliest Catch with stupid viewer Twitter comments.

If I have the ability to vote them off my monthly bill, they have to try to keep me as a viewer. What we have now isn't working. Why should I be paying for channels I don't watch? Why should I be paying for networks that show the SAME show for days on end?

With that said, you'll see 2/3rds of the channels disappear. The few freebies will be cable news and maybe wide appeal super stations. And the cable bill? Yeah, that's not going down at all.
Satch

join:2009-11-25
said by 88615298:

Sorry but too many people have this almost childlike delusion that al a carte will be this wonderful TV utopia. For most they will be very disappointed with the results. I'm probably one of the few that would actually benefit form this ad I think it's a bad idea. Not that the system doesn't need some tweaking. The old saying "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" applies very much to al a carte

Here is my view on Ala Carte programming:

n some respects, Ala Carte programing may help for small one to two-person households who are in agreement with what they like to watch. The problem is with larger families who rely in TV for entertainment, news, and educational services. How many people can actually agree on what services they would want to watch in an Ala-Carte channel model? How many channels are loved by some people, and hated by others even in the same household? In larger households, interests in what channels represent value may be too diverse where one may have to question how much money would be saved, over the conveyance of TWC Triple Play bundles. In my experience, I like the Triple Play better than Ala Carte. However, I use Internet, Cable TV, and Phone every day. For people that don’t, smaller packages might help.

Satch
Joe12345678

join:2003-07-22
Des Plaines, IL

Re: Careful what you wish for

said by Satch:

said by 88615298:

Sorry but too many people have this almost childlike delusion that al a carte will be this wonderful TV utopia. For most they will be very disappointed with the results. I'm probably one of the few that would actually benefit form this ad I think it's a bad idea. Not that the system doesn't need some tweaking. The old saying "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" applies very much to al a carte

Here is my view on Ala Carte programming:

n some respects, Ala Carte programing may help for small one to two-person households who are in agreement with what they like to watch. The problem is with larger families who rely in TV for entertainment, news, and educational services. How many people can actually agree on what services they would want to watch in an Ala-Carte channel model? How many channels are loved by some people, and hated by others even in the same household? In larger households, interests in what channels represent value may be too diverse where one may have to question how much money would be saved, over the conveyance of TWC Triple Play bundles. In my experience, I like the Triple Play better than Ala Carte. However, I use Internet, Cable TV, and Phone every day. For people that don’t, smaller packages might help.

Satch

Well I can see an need for sports to be on there own even to the point of limited basic + sports as an pack.

Also maybe kids / disney on it's own as well. disney channel is still ad fee and why should all of us be paying for it? The old 2009 price list shows disney like at X2 the cost of nick.

Disney should add ad's and drop it's price or go back to being like HBO as an premium service.
Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO
I dont know how it works in your house, but in mine. I am the king, the wife is the queen and WE decide (I get tie breaking vote) what we provide to the rest of the family. If they dont like, they can get a job and pay their own bills.
tmc8080

join:2004-04-24
Brooklyn, NY
Reviews:
·ooma
·Optimum Online
·Verizon FiOS

cord cut

I think this is 2nd year w/o catv subscription and I don't really miss it. If you really want to watch a channel, chances are its out there in some streaming website for intermittent use. Most web streaming sites are not ready for prime time to serve millions of viewers. Maybe in the next 5 years they will be...

What's really cool is there are no borders, you can watch channels from around the world outside of their contracted markets.. the walled gardens have no way to keep international viewers outside when the stream is not "authorized" You can watch doctor who (or whatever your fave is) stream live on UK tv in the USA.. how cool is that?
ke4pym
Premium
join:2004-07-24
Charlotte, NC

Blackout rule for the NFL

Is a *GREAT* idea.

Take public money to fund your playground? Great. No blackouts for you!

tshirt
Premium,MVM
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:5
Reviews:
·Comcast

tell John McCain I want...


lizard tongue
No more brown M&M's in my packages, and Twinkies should be in 3 packs for the same price because they made them smaller
and all houses should be built with 4 bathrooms no more and no less.

Had any public money been spent building the CATV industry it MIGHT be reasonable to tell them how to package their product.
Let's see why he won't tell the oil industry to be more consumer friendly.

•••••••

tshirt
Premium,MVM
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:5
Reviews:
·Comcast

one of his funnier efforts

»politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/20···pt=hp_t2
"pick up the coin, come on pick up the coin"
There is nothing dignified about public senility.
blackhorse6

join:2013-07-27

Free Markets and Monopolies

The first problem with bundling TV channels into 3 or 4 bundles is the market never really decides what is worth keeping. The producers require that if you want say ESPN or TNT etc then you also take Hallmark channel or WE, this in affect is subsidizing those lower end channels. Whether or not Hallmark or WE gets viewers really is not important as its part of the package sold to cable and satellite operators. If these channels can't survive on their own then perhaps they should improve their content or go online or even being taken off the air, the market will replace that content.

The second problem people face with is cable monopolies, if single channels are being sold cable companies have no real incentive to be competitive in their pricing. If Comcast and Time Warner and Verizon had to compete then prices wouldn't be as high as detractors are suggesting. One cable company in an area doesn't benefit anybody but that cable company, why cities sign these agreements is beyond me.
brandieewine

join:2013-07-27

Re: Free Markets and Monopolies

They wonder why more people decide to "cut the cord" everyday.

Probitas

@teksavvy.com

really

And how many of those bundled channels would die off if people weren't forced into supporting them, like the foreign language channels. Here in Canada, part of those stupid bundles are some channels that are considered basic, but only a small percentage of over all population uses them. Why should people be forced to purchase those channels when they don't use them? People complain about taxes, but normally everyone benefits from taxes. Forced sales only benefits people that watch those channels. They should have to pay the freight to view it. That would tend to drive the costs down for the other channels that are more popular and have more viewers. Every capitalist out there should support this idea, as it actually would be a market driven approach.