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Maine House Approves Measure That Would Require Cable Companies To Offer A-la-carte Channel Choices

Mike Carlucci
Flickr Creative Commons

Maine's House of Representatives Tuesday approved a measure that would require cable companies to offer a-la-carte channel choices when seeking municipal franchises for cable services.

"Folks, the problem that we're facing is our elders — people in their 70s, 80s, and 90s — grew up in an era when television was free,” says the bill’s sponsor, Jeffrey Evangelos, a Friendship independent. “In order to receive a program they want to watch called the Boston Red Sox, it costs $100 in a cable package today, to get a package that includes the Red Sox."

Cable companies have argued that state authority over their offerings is preempted by federal regulations. Evangelos says that that is not true, and he cites a recent letter to the state's Office of the Public Advocate from a Federal Communications Commission official, who said there is no precedent that prohibits cable companies from providing a-la-carte services.

The bill passed on a vote of 94 to 45. It now moves to the state Senate for further action.

A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.