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How one senator plans to break up the cable cartels

Cable A La Carte Legislation

Congress is America’s least-liked political institution but it could score some points with the public if it takes on one of America’s least-liked industries. The Washington Post reports that Senator Jay Rockefeller (D., WV) has introduced new legislation aimed at reining in cable companies’ ability to dictate what consumers can watch and what channels they’re required to buy as part of their bundling packages. Among other things, the bill would bar cable companies from entering into deals with broadcasters to keep their live content from Netflix, Hulu and other digital streaming services; would shore up regulations against ISPs degrading competing video services’ traffic in favor of their own; and it would give the Federal Communications Commission the power to monitor broadband billing practices.

“We have all heard the familiar complaint that we have five hundred channels, but there is nothing to watch,” Rockefeller said in a statement. “My legislation aims to enable the ultimate a la carte — to give consumers the ability to watch the programming they want to watch, when they want to watch it, how they want to watch it, and pay only for what they actually watch.”

Rockefeller’s proposal to give more power to over-the-top content distributors follows a proposal from Senator John McCain (R., AZ) earlier this year that would force cable TV companies to offer a la carte options as an alternative to expensive content bundles.

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.