FCC orders transparency in cable and satellite TV pricing

ConsumerAffairs

The decision will promote ‘all-in’ pricing from cable providers

Gone are the days of hidden fees on cable bills

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted to require all cable and satellite TV companies to make their pricing transparent on customers’ bills. The goal is to eliminate hidden fees that many consumers are stuck paying, and instead show one clear total of what customers will pay each month.  

“The advertised price for a cable or satellite TV subscription should be the price you see on your bill,” U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said in a statement. “That’s why I’ve long called for eliminating predatory fees that unfairly hide the actual cost of goods and services, like TV event tickets, hotel rooms, and housing. 

“This action will remove hidden fees on cable and satellite TV bills and bolster transparency from service providers.” 

The transition to ‘all-in’ pricing

The FCC explained that as much as 33% of a monthly cable bill is made up of fees that are tacked onto the monthly price – many of which have obscure titles and are intended to confuse consumers. However, with this decision, the agency is requiring cable and satellite providers to follow what they call “all-in” pricing. 

This means that consumers will have access to the total price of their monthly subscription, including all the extras, programming fees, sports packages, etc. in one single total. This price will be easily accessible and clearly displayed, giving consumers the opportunity to choose the provider and package that best fits their budget. 

All-in pricing will also give consumers the chance to directly compare cable providers side-by-side based on the total monthly fees. The goal is to put the choice back in the consumers’ hands, eliminate junk fees, and eliminate the confusion that often comes with cable bills. 

“No one likes surprises on their bill,” said FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel. “The advertised price for a service should be the price you pay when your bill arrives. It shouldn’t include a bunch of unexpected junk fees that are separate from the top-line price you were told when you signed up.” 

Cable companies have a different story

The NCTA – Internet and Television Association, a trade association representing cable companies, responded to the FCC’s decision, and the organization ultimately feels that the work is already being done when it comes to bill transparency. 

“Cable providers offer clear and accurate pricing information to attract and retain subscribers, including ‘all-in’ pricing information before signing up for service," the NCTA said in a statement

“The FCC’s micromanagement of advertising in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace will force operators to either clutter their ads with confusing disclosures or leave pricing information out entirely. For consumers, it’s a lose-lose proposition.” 

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