The FCC might not want to take on this issue — but that hasn’t stopped the Arizona senator, and former GOP presidential candidate, from pressing it today. “The time has come for television video consumers to have the option to either purchase individual channels or the tiers of channels currently offered by cable and satellite companies,” John McCain says in a letter to Acting FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn. “Today, this option does not exist and consumers are forced to buy channels they do not want,” he wrote. “This is wrong, and action should be taken.” Noting that consumers “want options that the current television market is not providing”, McCain asked Clyburn “to review this issue and take steps to shift this balance toward consumers, by providing consumers with greater choice when purchasing television video”. He rejects cable programmers’ claim that the pay TV bundle is a good deal for subscribers.Cable prices have risen more than 6% a year during the last 16 years, and viewers typically watch just 18 of the 130 channels they receive, McCain says. “The truth is the current socialized television model, where popular channels are subsidizing less popular channels, is incredibly anti-consumer.” If pay TV providers disagree, then they “should not be afraid of an a la carte option for consumers. My instinct tells me they are wrong, and industry references to a ‘Golden Age’ of television apply to everyone but the American consumer.” What about McCain’s bill to promote a la carte pricing? The response to it “has been astounding,” he says. (Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt said this week that McCain doesn’t believe it will pass.) Still, he wants the FCC to join the fray. “For too long, the government has entered the market on behalf of special interest to afford businesses the opportunity to develop and markets to mature,” McCain wrote. “That time has passed.”
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