Suddenlink, Mediacom cheer McCain bill

Top executives at Suddenlink and Mediacom Communications came out in support Monday of the Television Consumer Freedom Act introduced last week by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

But while Suddenlink CEO Jerry Kent and Mediacom CEO Rocco Commisso both cheered parts of the bill aimed at stopping programmers from using popular cable networks and TV stations to force distributors to strike broad carriage deals that include increased fees for less popular networks, they had unique takes on McCain's demands that cable operators give subscribers a la carte programming choices.

"While I do not think that a 'full' a la carte system--voluntary or mandatory--is necessarily desirable or viable, action that will compel programmers to allow cable companies greater control over how networks are offered would be highly beneficial for consumers," Commisso wrote in a letter to McCain. "I am confident that even among those distributors who might not agree with all of the specifics of your proposal, there is widespread agreement that you are to be commended for creating the opportunity for debate on this important subject," he added.

Suddenlink CEO Jerry Kent embraced the idea of offering more choices in programming packages and pricing options. "There is clearly a need for greater flexibility on the part of distributors like us, to offer smaller, more-economical packages of channels that are better targeted to diverse consumer interests and incomes," Kent said in a prepared statement released by Suddenlink Monday.

McCain is scheduled to testify Tuesday at a hearing on the state of the video business that has been scheduled by the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet. Dish Network General Counsel Stanton Dodge, National Cable & Telecommunications Association CEO Michael Powell and National Association of Broadcasters CEO Gordon Smith are also on the witness list.

For more:
- see the Suddenlink statement

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