The FCC Proposes Rules That Would Ban Cable TV Hidden Fees & Force Them To Advertise The True Cost of TV





Depressed mature man holding paper and looking at it while sitting on the couch at home

For some time now, the FCC has been talking about banning hidden fees in cable TV bills. Now the FCC has officially proposed rules that would once and for all end the practice of having hidden fees.

The FCC says these new proposed rules would make cable TV bills and video services have clear, easy-to-understand bills with accurate information. With this rules the advertised price will have to be the true price.

“We believe that the public interest requires that cable operators and DBS providers represent their subscription charges transparently, accurately, and clearly. Accordingly, we propose to require cable operators and DBS providers to provide the “all-in” price for video programming service in their promotional materials and on subscribers’ bills. Below, we seek comment on (i) the specifics of this proposal, (ii) existing federal, state, and local requirements related to truth-in-billing, (iii) the marketplace practices regarding advertising and billing, and (iv) our legal authority to adopt this proposal. We also seek comment on the costs and benefits of our proposal and the effects that our proposal could have on equity and inclusion.” The FCC said in a filing released today.

Here is how the FCC describes these new rules:

Proposal details. We propose to require that cable operators and DBS providers aggregate the cost of the video programming service (that is, any and all amounts that the cable operator or DBS provider charges the consumer for video programming, including for broadcast retransmission consent, regional sports programming, and other programming-related fees) as a prominent single line item on subscribers’ bills and in promotional materials, if they choose to advertise a price in those promotional materials.9 We intend for this aggregate amount to include the full amount the cable operator or satellite provider charges (or intends to charge) the customer in exchange for video programming service (such as broadcast television, sports programming, and entertainment programming), but nothing more (that is, no taxes or charges unrelated to video programming).10 The goal of this proposal is to provide consumers with the video programming service portion of their subscription payment for which they are or will be responsible in clear terms. This will allow consumers to make informed choices, including the ability to comparison shop among competing cable operators and DBS providers; compare programming costs against alternative programming providers, including streaming services; and budget for the actual amount that they will need to pay for cable or DBS video service every month, similar to the truth-in-billing rules that the Commission has in place to aid common carrier customers in understanding their bills and making informed choices in the market.

The FCC wants input from the public on these new rules, and no date has been announced for when they will vote on them. It will likely take some time for the FCC to work these rules into becoming law.

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