McCain hoping to piggyback a la carte on channel tying


The FCC is accepting commentary on the practice of forcing cable operators to carry channels they don’t want in order to get one they do. Hypothetically, the producer of, say, "The Excellent Channel" may force a system to also provide a slot for its other products, like "The Mediocre Channel," "The Boring Channel" and "The Sleep-Inducing Channel." Leave it to John McCain (R-AZ) to seize this as an opportunity to beat the a la carte drums again. "I applaud the FCC for its decision to open a proceeding that I hope will lead to consumers being given more choice and greater control over their television viewing options," he said.  Hopefully, consumers will soon have the ability to buy from their cable providers only the channels they watch and are willing to invite into their homes for viewing."

TVBR/RBR observation: Unless we’re very much mistaken, the issue cable operators face when forced into the situation described above is not so much one of cash outlay, it’s about managing their channel capacity. The system may know full well that there are three channels out there that subscribers would be much more interested in than the ones that "The Excellent Channel" is trying to cram down its throat. The situation has nothing in common with a la carte, which at its core is not really about economics (the numbers just don’t add up). It’s about decency. We would guess that small operators in particular would rather negotiate with "The Excellent Channel" under the current rules rather than face the headache and expense of overturning their entire business model to accommodate a la carte. Mr. McCain, if you don’t like the channel, block it.