John McCain Pushes for a la Carte Cable Options in Letter to FCC

John McCain Speaking - H 2012
Alex Wong/Getty Images

John McCain Speaking - H 2012

The Arizona Senator touts his proposed Television Consumer Freedom Act in the missive.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is pushing forward on proposed legislation that would allow for an a la carte system of pay TV.

In a letter addressed to Mignon Clyburn, acting chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission, McCain writes that "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." 

Calling the response to the legislation "astounding," McCain urges the FCC to "take steps" to adopt his Television Consumer Freedom Act, which would shift the balance of economic incentive away from broadcasters and toward consumers by providing them with "greater choices."

McCain's proposal is hardly a new one: The senator has been arguing for years now that cable customers are being fleeced by media companies forcing them to subscribe to bundled channels.

But cable providers like Comcast and Time Warner are uniformly opposed to McCain's proposal. They argue that doing away with volume discounts on channels ultimately would wind up costing the consumer much more and discourage diversity when it comes to viewing habits.

Beltway insiders say there is little chance of passage for McCain's bill, but the campaign makes for good populist politics, playing to that huge portion of the electorate who hate getting pricey cable bills.

McCain recently made headlines elsewhere for having seemingly precipitated another major change in telecommunications protocol -- though it appears it was entirely coincidental.

One month after the senator grilled Apple CEO Tim Cook at a tax hearing about "why the hell I have to keep updating the apps on my iPhone," the company announced a new operating system that would download the changes automatically.

"Thanks to Tim Cook for the automatic iphone app updates!" McCain tweeted in appreciation on Monday.

Read the letter on the next page.