Embattled Internet television streaming service Aereo has an unlikely friend in Congress: Sen. John McCain.
McCain introduced a bill last week offering a carrot-and-stick approach to stop television distributors from bundling unpopular channels with those in high demand. While McCain's bill has been getting plenty of attention, flying under the radar has been what might be dubbed his "Aereo provision."
That's where McCain's Aereo provision fits in. The Fox broadcast network operates on a license granted by the government. In exchange, Fox and other networks are expected to provide local news, weather and emergency alerts to consumers. McCain's bill is essentially a response to Carey's threat: stop providing your public service, and you'll lose your license to air your content on the broadcast airwaves.
"Senator McCain believes strongly that if broadcasters, who pay nothing for spectrum in exchange for public interest obligations, deviate from their statutory responsibilities, then the public deserves to have that spectrum auctioned with proceeds going to the federal treasury," wrote McCain's Communications Director Brian Rogers in an email to Mashable.
Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia agreed Fox would be violating its agreement if it were to go subscription-only.
"The broadcasters got free spectrum to broadcast in the public interest in communities, they built up entire businesses based on that free band," Kanojia told Mashable.
"And to abandon 50 million-plus people just seems like they're breaking a deal."