John McCain has introduced a bill that would encourage (not require) cable companies to offer unbundled services. It's all carrot, no stick: cable companies currently enjoy compulsory copyright licensing of broadcast channels. McCain's bill makes that license contingent on offering a-la-carte channel selection.
Of course, a better (and less hypocritical) approach would be to remove the regulatory barriers to entry that prevent competitors from entering the market. (Hey, a bot can dream.) But short of that, this is better than nothing.
I thought this was noteworthy because it is so rare that a Republican does something that isn't completely moronic. I'm sure it's not unprecedented, but I can't remember the last time it happened.
You have such faith in regulation! Without attempting to choose sides myself, let me just offer that there's a possible argument that channel bundling is not just a case of evil monopoly rents. And, in particular, that a naive guess as to how much you might save with unbundling may be vastly overestimated.
Also: Paying for channels you never watch.
People's naive economic intuitions often don't match the reality of how businesses really work.
I don't actually care if I would save money by unbundling. That's not the point. The point is: I want to have the choice, because if I have the choice then -- and only then -- the market can work to sort out what people really want.
Actually, what I *really* really want is for everything to be video-on-demand (which is why I'm a very happy Netflix subscriber). There's really no reason in this day and age for anything but the news and sports to be scheduled.
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