On August 14th, Christopher Mitchell and I visited Senator Amy Kobuchar's office in Minneapolis. We arranged the meeting in coordination with Free Press and the Media Action Grassroots Network to talk with our Senator about the Television Consumer Freedom Act, also known as S.912.
Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) are sponsoring this effort to scale back cable program bundling. ILSR and the Free Press recognize this as a good start to reforming our deeply flawed video market. We also see it as a foothold to inching closer to the wide ranging and affordable broadband we desperately need.
We met with Senate staff to present 594 Minnesota petition signatures in support of the legislation. Free Press has collected over 27,000 signatures from across the country asking Congress to pass the Television Consumer Freedom Act.
The bill provides options for consumers beyond today's restrictive bundled services. By offering channels a la carte, consumers can pay for what they want rather than being forced to pay for many channels they do not. Bundling also limits independent channels by crowding out capacity and creating onerous financial barriers for entrepreneurial media ventures. This bill will not eliminate bundling, but will require cable providers to also offer a la carte pricing. It is important to note that the cable companies themselves are often forced to bundle by channel owners like Viacom or Disney. This bill restricts that practice as well.
We also give two thumbs up for the sports fans' provision in the bill. From an LA Times opinion piece written by Senator McCain:
Another provision in the bill seeks to end the practice of sports team owners punishing fans by blacking out home games that don't sell out. It provides that games taking place in publicly financed stadiums can't be blacked out.
For an in-depth analysis of S.912's provisions, read ...Read more