The leaders of the Senate Commerce Committee have given up on a proposal that would have allowed consumers to pick and choose which broadcast TV networks they wanted to pay for.
But the issue could surface again next year when lawmakers begin a broader rewrite of communications law.
Sens. Jay Rockefeller and John Thune had planned a committee vote for next week on their "Local Choice" proposal, but they were forced to pull the legislation due to opposition from other committee members.
"It probably would've been a tough vote, only because a lot of our guys had not had a lot of time to digest and process it," Thune, the top Republican on the committee, admitted to reporters Wednesday.
The proposal wouldn't have affected cable channels like ESPN, but it would have required broadcast networks like Fox, NBC, and CBS to set individual prices for their channels. Consumers could then choose which ones they wanted to pay for in an "a la carte" pricing system instead of the channels being part of larger bundles.
Broadcast channels are free to access over the air (if you have an antenna), but cable providers currently have to pay to carry them and have to offer them in their most basic tier. TV broadcasters are expected to pull in $4.3 billion in fees from cable companies this year, and the total could reach $7.6 billion by 2019, according to an analysis by SNL Kagan.