John McCain pushes a la carte TV channels bill

Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
Randy Savicky
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John McCain pushes a la carte TV channels bill

Legislation was introduced today by Senator McCain to push forward a la carte TV programming. Personally, I'd like to have a la carte satellite TV programming, naked DSL or naked broadband cable, and a reliable VoIP service provider.

Alas, I am still overpaying for cable TV and only get like 4 HDTV channels. I'd love to switch to satellite TV, but would still need to keep at least basic cable in order to keep my high-speed broadband cable connection. It is not very cost effective to switch to basic cable plus pay for satellite channels. Satellite Internet access is a joke, and I'd be in the same bundling boat if I switched to DSL broadband, since very few offer naked DSL - where you don't need to also pay for basic phone service. In addition to a la carte programming, Senator McCain, or someone in the Senate, needs to push forward a bill that allows consumers to purchase Internet access not bundled with phone service (DSL) and not bundled with cable TV service.

It's a damn racket, I tell ya! They need to make all services a la carte - channels you want, broadband access service you want, and which TV provider you want. This bundling crap is actually more expensive and forces consumers to stay with specific providers to try and get the best value - even if the service is inferior to competitors. For instance, with satellite TV I can get over 185 digital channels (many HDTV with surround sound), versus 120 channels for cable, most of which are not digital, not HDTV and not surround sound.

On a related note, RCN Corporation (NASDAQ: RCNI), a leading provider of triple play cable, high-speed Internet and phone services, today issued the following statement on draft legislation introduced by Senator John McCain (R-Arizona):

"We are pleased to see that this bill pushes forward the concept of themed a la carte family programming," said RCN Senior Vice President of Strategic and External Affairs Richard Ramlall. "Since August 2004, our company has expressed a willingness to test consumer reaction to themed program tiers on our digital systems.  Most recently we met with Federal Communications Chairman Kevin Martin and indicated we would be willing to conduct a trial in Boston.

"We believe that themed a la carte tiers would greatly enhance consumer choice by allowing them to choose from an array of smaller programming tiers, limited to the kind of categories of programming they most want and value. At the same time it would support development of new and diverse programming in those categories," explained Ramlall.

"However, we've been frustrated in our effort to develop such offerings by the impediments imposed by programmers. Many of them are owned or controlled by the largest incumbent cable operators, who require tying arrangements and other contractual restrictions that preclude RCN and other competitive providers from offering consumer-driven programming options."

Amen to that! Maybe we can amend the Net Neutrality bill being proposed? What say you all?


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