FCC: cable TV providers have to disclose total subscription costs

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New rules for cable and satellite-TV providers means the companies need to clearly show total costs for video subscriptions, including extraneous fees that can add up to triple digits a year, the Federal Communications Commission announced on Thursday.

“Charges and fees for video programming provided by cable and DBS (direct broadcast satellite) providers are often obscured in misleading promotional materials and bills, which causes significant and costly confusion for consumers,” the FCC stated.

The rule adopted by the FCC mandates that cable and satellite companies clearly state the total cost, including fees for regional sports programming as a single line item.

According to advocacy groups Consumer Reports and Public Knowledge, broadcast TV, regional sports and set-top box rentals mean an additional $37 to the average monthly bill, or up to a third of the total. 

The companies behind the bills argued against the FCC rule, with the NCTA, the Internet & Television Association calling the requirement technically challenging as regional fees vary, making it expensive to target individual markets. 

The FCC in November voted to mandate broadband providers clearly state the cost, speed and data allowances provided by their internet services.

Kate Gibson

Kate Gibson is a reporter for CBS MoneyWatch in New York.

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