If Sen. John McCain has his way, the whole broadcast/cable eco-system will be turned upside real soon. Nice wishful thinking by him and others who want drastic change. Except for one thing: There is no way what he wants will happen.
Sen. McCain is sponsoring a bill in response to recent threats from broadcasters to become cable networks should Internet technology from the likes of Aereo prevail. Aereo wants to use its individual digital "antenna" technology to bring broadcast signals to consumers at just $8 a month without paying anything to the networks.
if that were to happen, McCain wants to strip TV networks’ stations of their broadcast licenses. That could cause unimaginable disruption to the TV station industry.
But McCain doesn't stop there. He also wants cable operators to offer a la carte programming to their subscribers. Operators who don’t comply would lose the compulsory copyright license that currently allows them to carry broadcast stations without negotiating for the rights to each individual program.
McCain's bill also strikes at team owners in the NFL and other sports. It would eliminate the rule which allows the NFL and other leagues to black out local events to protect stadium attendance.
Let's see: Broadcast networks, TV stations, cable operators, cable networks and the NFL. That's pretty much a clean sweep of some major media players.
We don't know if the broadcast networks have devised a transition plan that would keep their owned stations’ infrastructure – and perhaps that of their affilaites -- intact.
Stations could be crushed if their networks move to cable. Could they become Internet-based stations? Not sure.
Many will cheer this legislation. There would be less regulation. Let the free market decide. That's the nice, good-selling consumer perspective.
In theory, passage of the bill could mean a quicker move by consumers to all things digital or video-on-demand -- digital ad-supported and non-ad-supported video websites and apps, over-the-top services, and subscription VOD platforms like Netflix and Hulu Plus.
But don't worry. The bill doesn't have a chance in hell of getting through. Why? In a time when the job market is still precarious, this legislations would be damaging -- big time. Few Congressional representatives will go for it.
But people can dream, can't they? Maybe there is a secret digital video agenda by some of our elected leaders. In theory.