Viacom Chief Scoffs At John McCain’s Effort To Bust Pay TV Bundles

Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman had better hope he doesn’t have to testify at a congressional hearing where Sen. John McCain’s asking the questions. The entertainment exec gave the back of his hand today to the Arizona Republican’s new campaign to promote a la carte pay TV pricing. McCain “got a lot of publicity for his solo sponsored bill which he’s been doing for 15 years now,” Dauman told investors at the Nomura Global Media & Telecom Summit. The proposal has “no co-sponsors, [and is] going nowhere.” One big reason, Dauman says: The current pay TV bundles are “great for consumers. Consumers are enjoying what many call the golden age of television because we have a number of networks….come from nothing and know that they have distribution.” But he says “the opposite would be true” with a la carte pricing. “Consumers would get fewer channels without saving any money.” Although some analysts wonder whether online video will promote cord cutting, Dauman still sees the businesses as complementary. MTV will introduce an app for streaming programming “very soon,” following Nickelodeon’s which the CEO says has been “very successful.” Indeed, he says that channel apps “can be the method by which you get TV Everywhere” as opposed to apps from pay TV distributors. Viacom’s program carriage deal with Netflix expires at the end of this week, but Dauman declined to update investors about the status of their negotiations. (Netflix recently said that it wants more exclusive programming.) The Viacom CEO says that broadly speaking online streaming is still “a growth opportunity for us.”

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