(Ted Houston, KFYI News) Arizona Sen. John McCain has introduced a bill aimed at lowering your cable TV bill. The Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013 would allow consumers to buy cable channels individually, also known as "a la carte".
In remarks on the Senate floor, McCain said the bill would "unbundle" programming from programmers and distributors.
Cable TV firms have resisted such moves for years, claiming that in order to be profitable, they have to include expensive channels like ESPN on everyone's channel lineup.
But McCain said that boosts everyone's cable bill beyond reason. He quoted a survey by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC): "The average monthly price of expanded basic service... increased 5.4 percent over the 12 months ending January 1, 2011, to $54.46, compared to an increase of 1.6 percent in the Consumer Price Index... The average cable price has gone up from about $25 a month in 1995 to over $54 today. That's a 100 percent price increase."
McCain blames the programming providers. "According to a January 2012 Newsweek article, ESPN charges (cable companies) roughly $4.69 per household per month... By comparison, the next costliest national network, TNT, takes in $1.16 per month."
He said those programming providers require cable companies to carry a "bundle" of channels. "Cable and satellite carriers that consider dropping ESPN must also contemplate losing other channels in the bundle, like the Disney Channel."
McCain says it's time to call the programmers' bluff. "We're gonna find out how powerful these companies are, as opposed to correcting an injustice that's being inflicted on the American people," he said.
McCain's legislation would also outlaw some sports "blackout" rules. Currently, some leagues black out local stations and cable companies from carrying sports events in the same market if those events don't sell out. McCain's bill would end that restriction in the instance of sports venues, or teams, that are publicly financed.