How's this for a New Year's wish: cable companies provide us with an a la carte subscription for individual channels? The state of Maine has a "first in the nation" new law that requires cable companies to offer pricing for individual channels, but U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Torresen temporarily blocked the law last week.

Even though it would be nice to get a similar law like that in Massachusetts, I'm afraid the same would happen here too because, in brief, a law like that runs afoul of federal legislation governing cable companies, who say requiring the companies to offer channels individually violates their First Amendment right to editorial control over programming.

In other words, we could be up a creek without a paddle.

It looks like a losing battle for Mr. & Mrs. America, because language in the federal statue reads "That no state shall regulate the products, rates, services of a cable provider."

The cable companies also argue that such a requirement change would alter their businesses, putting them at a competitive disadvantage with unregulated satellite or online services, in a way that could result in consumers paying more for television service.

Nonetheless, it sounds good to pay for only the channels you want. We've been discussing it on talk radio for decades, but since the handwriting is on the wall against us, millions of us have abandoned traditional cable in favor of lower-cost streaming services. That's why Disney and others are spending billions on new content and services that are expanding viewing choices.

So what's a consumer to do? We have to look to the future and lawmakers, on every level, have to find ways to make it easier for competitors to enter their markets. If they work on new competition coming into every market, it will be a major victory for us in this David vs. Goliath battle, and a great New Year's gift!

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at phil@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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