FCC to Require Cable, Satellite Operators to Show ‘All-In’ Pricing on Bills, Promotions With No Hidden Fees

Cable and satellite TV providers will have to display the total price for their services “clearly and prominently” in promotions and customers’ bills thanks to a new regulation set by the Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC on Thursday said providers must specify “all-in” prices in an effort to get the companies to eliminate what it called “the misleading practice of describing video programming costs as a tax, fee, or surcharge.”

“No one likes surprises on their bill,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. ” 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.”

The agency maintained that “all-in” pricing helps consumers make informed choices, “including the ability to comparison shop among competitors and to compare programming costs against alternative programming providers, including streaming services.”

“TV providers often use deceptive junk fees to hide the real price of their services,” the agency said.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr disagreed with the move, maintaining that the agency does not have statutory authority over satellite billing, cable advertising or satellite advertising.

“I agree that the commission may regulate cable bill disclosures,” Carr said in a statement. “If the item were so limited, I could have supported it. But the item goes further and strays markedly from our statutory authority.”

That suggests that cable and satellite operators may be able to push back on some of the rules.

The NCTA, which represents internet and television providers, submitted comments to the FCC prior to the decision that said all-in pricing is unnecessary given the competitive nature of the industry, and that adoption of the rules “would only introduce needless complications and confusion to the detriment of consumers.”

The FCC said the move is part of a broader effort by the Biden administration to combat junk fees and support transparency for consumers.

The agency is also planning to launch requirements next month for broadband providers to provide clear, easy-to-understand and accurate information about the cost and performance of high-speed internet service, and has proposed rules to eliminate termination fees prior to video service contract expiration dates and billing cycle fees.

“The bottom line is we do not have to have junk fees,” Rosenworcel said. “We can have bills that are transparent and fair.”

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