FCC to vote in March on rules for ‘all-in’ cable and satellite pricing

Politics

Signage is seen at the headquarters of the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C.

Andrew Kelly | Reuters

WASHINGTON — A federal consumer protection watchdog agency on Wednesday announced that it will be voting on rules that will require cable and satellite providers to display an “all-in” price for video programming on consumers’ bills and promotional materials.

The Federal Communications Commission’s final rules are expected to be largely similar to those the agency initially proposed last year. The commission plans to vote on a final version of the rules during its upcoming March 14 open meeting.

“We’re working to make it so the advertised price for a service is the price you pay when your bill arrives,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. 

“Not only will this reduce cost confusion and make it easier for consumers to compare services, but this proposal will also increase competition among cable and broadcast satellite providers through improved price transparency,” said Rosenworcel.

The commission voted in December to adopt a proposal to ban cable and satellite companies from charging early termination fees.

The agency is also gearing up to enforce a new labeling format for broadband internet service providers, starting in April.

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The FCC rules to be voted on next month are the latest in a string of new regulations across the federal government aimed at eliminating what the Biden administration has labeled “junk fees,” undefined or last-minute costs charged to consumers, often at the end of an online transaction.

It is also a cause that President Joe Biden has long supported.

“Too often, these companies hide additional junk fees on customer bills disguised as “broadcast TV” or “regional sports” fees that in reality pay for no additional services,” Biden said in a June 2023 statement on the proposed FCC rule.

“These fees really add up: according to one report, they increase customer bills by nearly 25% of the price of base service,” said Biden.

Correction: The FCC announced Wednesday it will be voting to finalize price disclosure rules for video programming services. An earlier version mischaracterized the action.

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