Case in point: I am a certifiable sports nut and ESPN fanatic. I enjoy just about every sport, and I stay awake many nights in Washington watching games in Arizona that don’t end until well after midnight. Although I’d never go without ESPN, the fact is that millions of other viewers have no interest in sports programming. What many of these Americans are beginning to realize is that included in their cable bill is a charge of about $5 a month to carry ESPN.
That’s an “ESPN tax” of $60 a year that they’re forced to pay for having cable. And because it’s part of their bundle, the only way to avoid it is to cancel their cable subscription entirely. This status quo is fundamentally unfair and wrong.
Now, many will say that the government should stay on the sidelines and out of the free market. I’d normally agree. But the truth is the government already has its thumb on the scale in favor of industry and against the interests of consumers. It’s time for that to end.
I have introduced the Television Consumer Freedom Act, which aims to provide consumers with the option to buy only those channels they want to watch. The bill includes no mandates. Rather, it sends a powerful message to cable and satellite companies, such as Cox and DirecTV, and television programmers, such as Disney-ABC and NBC-Universal: If you want to continue to enjoy government-afforded regulatory benefits, offer TV-watching Americans an a la carte approach to programming rather than the take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum we have today.