Broadcast TV and Sports Programming Fee went up 751% to $19.15 a month on a basic Spectrum Brooklyn, (Nov. 2020) Triple Play from $2.25 only 6 years ago.
On January 11th, 2021 the IRREGULATORS’ gave testimony in front of the NYC Franchise and Concession Review Committee Public Hearing January 11, 2021.
This is an abridged version of the Testimony. As we requested,
To be very blunt, NYC should not renew any of the current cable franchises that have expired and it should start with a real change — a clean sweep — to address the actual problems with NYC and NY State’s telecommunications and cable company services; These issues have been here for decades, but they are a political hot potato and ignored.
The United States should be on par with pricing of communications services throughout the world. Instead, we are being gouged.
The IRREGULATORS requested that the New York City, before it renews any cable franchise, should audit the accounting of the companies, explain why prices in America are no longer affordable and to remove these ‘made up’ charges that makes prices no longer affordable. These charges are NOT government mandated, are not audited; they are not even mentioned in the advertised price of service, or promotional prices. This is now an industry-wide method of customer gouging, as if these companies are acting as a ‘cartel’– a Big Telecom, Big Cable cartel.
Adding $19.15 a month to a customer’s basic triple play is out of control and must be removed, not lowered. Politicians and regulators that allow these practices to continue demonstrate that they helped to create the Digital Divide– and want it to continue, regardless of their rhetoric.
FINDING: America’s Triple Play (Broadband, Phone, and Cable TV) Averages $217.00 a Month and Rising, but over $60 has additional charges above a base price of $157.00.
Consumer Reports Study: How Cable Companies Use Hidden Fees to Raise Prices and Disguise the True Cost of Service (CR CABLE BILL REPORT 2019)
“The average cable bill in our study costs consumers $217.42 a month. Of this number, a little less than $157 on average was determined to be the base package price once all fees, taxes, and charges for premium services were subtracted from the total price.”
But one charge in particular stands out.
- Broadcast TV and Sports Programming Fee went up 751% to $19.15 a month on a basic Spectrum Triple play from $2.25 only 6 years ago, based on Spectrum Brooklyn, Nov. 2020 bill.
Spectrum web site gives this definition of the Broadcast TV Surcharge
“Federal law allows local U.S. broadcast television stations (i.e. affiliates of networks such as CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, etc.) to negotiate with cable and satellite providers in order to obtain “consent” to carry their broadcast signals (Cable TV Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992).
“As a direct result of local broadcast or “network-affiliated” TV stations in recent years dramatically increasing the rates to Charter Communications to distribute their signals to our customers, we’re forced to pass those charges on as a “Broadcast TV Surcharge. These local TV signals were historically made available to us at no cost or low cost. However, in recent years the prices demanded by local broadcast TV stations have necessitated that we pass these costs on to customers.”
Reason for Investigations
This definition on the web site is not telling the truth. This charge is actually a combination of 2 charges the ‘sports programming fee’ and the ‘broadcast TV’ fee—the company has decided since no one audits the bills they can violate multiple truth-in-billing, truth-in-advertising laws. This is the fine print from verizon’s FiOS TV info March 2015, the almost impossible to read info supplied.
In 2021, these fees are through the roof. Suddenlink, in California, has a “Broadcast Station Programming Surcharge” of $15.00/month plus a Sports Programming Surcharge of $6.65/month – total of $21.65/month.
NOT A GOVERNMENT FEE OR MANDATED. COMCAST Xfinity: Broadcast TV Fee
“The Broadcast TV Fee is an itemized charge that you’ll see on your bill. This charge is not a government-mandated fee and will increase from time to time. It is based on our costs of providing the local broadcast stations that we carry on our cable systems in each area. These costs include the fees that the broadcast stations charge us to carry them on our cable systems, which are among our largest increasing costs. The Broadcast TV Fee is not included as a part of our promotional pricing or pricing under your minimum-term agreement and can increase during your promotion or minimum-term.”
And it appears that Comcast still separates these fees:
Regional Sports Network Fee “The Regional Sports Network Fee is an itemized charge that you’ll see on your bill. This charge is not a government-mandated fee and will increase from time to time. It’s based on our costs of providing the regional sports networks that we carry on our cable systems in each area. These costs include the fees that regional sports networks charge us to carry them on our cable systems, which are among our largest increasing costs. The Regional Sports Network Fee is not included in our promotional pricing or pricing under your minimum-term agreement and can increase during your promotion or minimum-term.”