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Tenn. Republican Legislators Twang vs. Martin’s a la Carte Strategy

A trio of Tennessee Republican legislators and country-music fans urged Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin to rethink his a la carte strategy.

In a letter to the chairman earlier this week, Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and Rep. Marsha Blackburn asked him to "carefully consider the negative impacts of any effort to regulate the video-programming market through a la carte mandates of other means."

They said requiring cable programmers to sell their channels individually could mean that channels like CMT and Great American Country might not be able to gain enough carriage and reach enough viewers to survive. They are, the trio lamented, the only three 24-hour cable channels devoted to country music.

"The impact on the country-music industry, which has not other dedicated cable outlets," they added, "could be devastating."

They also put in a plug for the Knoxville, Tenn.-based Scripps Networks suite of channels -- Home & Garden Television, Food Network, DIY, Fine Living and HGTVPro -- as well as Trinity Broadcasting Network and Gospel Music Channel, which are either based in or have a presence in Tennessee.

"We are therefore concerned that the FCC's notice of proposed rulemaking for a government-mandated a la carte proposal will pose a significant risk to Tennessee’s economy, while offering consumers fewer choices," they wrote.