FCC May Require 'All-In' Price Disclosures For Pay-TV Providers

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chair Jessica Rosenworcel has proposed requiring that cable and satellite TV providers include an “all-in” price notice in promotions and monthly bills.

Providers would be required to state the total cost of video programming service clearly and prominently, including broadcast retransmission, regional sports programming and other programming-related fees, as a “prominent single line item on subscribers’ bills and in promotional materials.”

The format would eliminate what the Commission calls “the misleading practice of describing these video programming costs as a tax, fee, or surcharge” and “allow consumers to make informed choices, including the ability to comparison shop among competing providers and to compare programming costs against alternative programming providers, including streaming services.”

“We’re working to make it so the advertised price for a service is the price you pay when your bill arrives and isn’t littered with anything that resembles junk fees,” stated Rosenworcel. “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.” 

With Biden administration nominee Gigi Sohn recently having bowed out of contention for a long-open FCC post, the commission remains equally split between Democrats and Republicans. Rosenworcel’s announcement of the proposal may indicate that she believes she will be able to secure a vote from at least one Republican commissioner in order to seek public comment on the proposal. 

But with high fees driving the accelerating exodus from pay-TV services, that industry will no doubt lobby hard against any measure that might give consumers more impetus to change providers.

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