updated 09:34 pm EDT, Thu May 9, 2013
Bill also proposes total elimination of sporting broadcast blackout rules
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today introduced the Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013, aimed at migrating away from the cable industry practice of bundling, and moving the entire industry top to bottom towards "a la carte" offerings. The act as it stands is voluntary, offering incentives to companies operating in accordance with the directive, rather than severely penalizing recalcitrant companies for noncompliance.
"My legislation would eliminate regulatory barriers to a la carte by freeing up multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) - like, cable, satellite and others offering video services - to offer any video programming service on an a la carte basis," said McCain introducing his legislation.
The effort isn't entirely without penalties for noncompliance. McCain added that "if the MVPD does not offer a broadcast station -- and any other channels owned by the broadcaster -- on an a la carte basis, the MVPD cannot rely on the compulsory license to carry those broadcast stations." Broadcasters not offering individual channels for sale would suffer the loss of the compulsory copyright license, which allows broadcasters to retransmit content without obtaining permission from the copyright holder.
Also embedded in the new legislation is language eradicating pro-sports "blackout rules" that prevent live events from being seen under an assortment of circumstances. Any stadium or venue paid for in part with taxpayer funds would be required to eliminate broadcast blackout rules, including geographical, attendance, and other arcane rules established to attempt to keep stadium attendance high.