The cable television industry could be in store for a serious shake-up if Senator John McCain gets his way.
The Capitol Hill veteran and former Republican presidential candidate introduced legislation Thursday designed to lead to a move towards a-la-carte cable subscriptions. The bill would also prevent broadcasters from pulling “Aereo-proofing” their content, a move threatened by networks such as Fox and CBS in response to the rise of the new streaming service.
McCain fancies himself a longtime antagonist of the cable industry, and he is introducing the bill at a moment when the cable business model is facing something of an inflection point. At the same time that consumers are looking at rising subscription costs, cable carriers and media conglomerates are sparring in the courts over the bundling of content packages. Not to mention, technological alternatives to cable such as streaming video have proliferated to the point that subscribers have more reason to “cut the cord” than ever before.
I’ve actually theorized for a while now that the regulation of cable television had the potential to grow into a hot political issue for a host of reasons.
Primary among them, older people watch a lot of TV. (There’s a reason why CBS is “America’s Most Watched Network,” after all.) As of 2010, Americans aged 65 and up watched an average of more than 47 hours of television per week, more than any other age cohort by about five hours per week. The graying of the national population means that this age group will increasingly dominate a larger share of the voting public. (Note that McCain represents a state that is crawling with retirees). These people also turn out to the polls, even when the next occupant of the White House isn’t on the ballot. (And I don’t have any data to back this up, but how many old people do you know who don’t bitch when the price of anything goes up?)
As such, there are plenty of political points to be scored here - and even more to be scored going forward. I have my doubts that this specific legislation will go anywhere. The cable industry and content providers combine to form a pretty powerful lobby in Washington with friends in high places.
Whether or not this specific bill garners much support is ultimately irrelevant, though. Between the pressures being applied by politicians, the market and, potentially, the courts, changes to the cable business look more like a matter of if than when. ESPN and the media companies handing out lucrative contracts for sports media rights presumably have a backup plan... right?
As a member of the demographic you speak of (ahem), I agree whole-heartedly with Sen. McCain's proposal. Let's hold no illusions, however. If a-la carte pricing becomes the norm, fees for individual shows we want to watch shall go way way up.
That may be fairer to the viewer, but your cable bill won't be much less than it is now.
I "Cut the Cord" 6 1/2 years ago. I got fed up with ever-rising prices and the decline of the quality of what I was watching (Increased advertising, the proliferation of "reality" shows and channels abandoning their "niche" programming). After cancelling my subscription I have used the money formerly used to pay for cable to purchasing programming on home vider, primarily DVDs. I have amassed a collection so huge it will take me more than 20 years to watch. No more "Reality" shows, no more "Clutter" (On-Screen Advertising) and No MORE COMMERCIALS!
The government doing something that might make some sort of...what's the word I'm looking for? "Sense"? Meaning I could have Speed on basic cable and give up Lifetime that I never watch? Better build a shelter in the backyard, because the end times must be near...
if you don't think the buying and selling of cable TV affects the rest of the country, you're badly mistaken sir... fortunately, McCain has no idea what can of worms he's opening... this could be an opening for a huge revolution against the corporate media that lies to, imprisons and zombifies this country
while I don't believe it's "unfair and wrong" to charge consumers for a service (which every corporation does), I like the concept... and I like the direction that this could send us... I'm not a McCain fan (notice how he goes out of his way not to indict Rupert Murdoch), but this regulation (de-monopolization) could open up many avenues... imagine the ability to ONLY subscribe to ESPN, CBS & IFC... shame that no network will spotlight this legislation... freedom of the press? maybe if I owned one
It wont happen as the big boys will lobby like hell to make sure its not passed. That and it will go to the courts.
We should all value McCain's judgement when it comes to important issues. Maybe he'll bring in Amanda Bynes to assist him.