The Washington Times - June 13, 2013, 09:57AM

Sen. John McCain is pushing cable TV providers to offer channels a la carte, arguing viewers shouldn’t have to pay for the ones they never watch.

Mr. McCain, Arizona Republican, said this week the time has come for customers be able to either select their channels individually or purchase the tiers of bundled channels that cable and satellite providers typically offer.

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“Today, this option does not exist and consumers are forced to buy channels they do not want,” he said in a letter to Mignon Clyburn, acting chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission. “This is wrong and action should be taken.”

Mr. McCain said he has introduced legislation that would not mandate providers, or multichannel video programming distributors (MVPD), to offer channels individually, although it would incentivize them to do so.

“If the MVPDs are right, and the current tiered programming model is the best value for consumers, then the programmers who bundle their television channels and the MVPDs that offer tiers to consumers should not be afraid of an a la carte option for consumers,” he said.

He pointed to studies that say customers, on average, watch about 18 of the 130 channels they purchase, so “what consumers really believe they are getting a good deal?”

“The truth,” he said, “is the current socialized television model, where popular channels are subsidizing less popular channels, is incredibly anti-consumer … As such, I call on the Commission to review this issue and take steps to shift this balance toward consumers, by providing consumers with greater choice when purchasing television video.”