Bill Proposes 'A La Carte' Cable
Reps. Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) are the cosponsors of the Family and Consumer Choice Act of 2007. In addition to allowing consumers to opt out of specific channels, the legislation would also create a "family tier," and relegate "indecent" programming to the night shift, between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Predictably, the cable industry hates the idea of unbundling channels. Cable operators have long depended on a business model that organizes programming into tiers, which are ever changing, and thus used to justify frequent rate hikes. At least, that's my take on it. See NCTA's "expert study" for the opposite viewpoint.
The industry is less opposed to the family tier. In fact, some cable companies have already been putting the concept into practice, though their implementation has not always meet with universal approval from parent activists.
As for the timeslot restriction of racy programming, known as "time channeling," perhaps the most penetrating comment has come from ArsTechnica, which asked: "Does time channeling still make sense in an on-demand world?"
All three parts of the legislative initiative come at the request of Kevin Martin, who chairs the Federal Communications Commission, and has long argued for ways of protecting children from programming deemed indecent.