FCC wants satellite and cable TV operators to disclose pricing details

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed a rule mandating cable TV and satellite TV operators to disclose the pricing details of their video programming services in promotional materials and billing statements.
Smart TV channelsUnited States President Joe Biden expressed his support for this plan.

The aim of the FCC’s proposal is to ensure that companies present consumers with the complete and transparent “all-in” cost, eliminating any hidden fees, taxes, or surcharges that are often excluded from the advertised pricing.

Under the plan, providers would be required to prominently display the total cost of video programming services, including fees related to broadcast retransmission consent, regional sports programming, and other programming-related charges, as a single line item on both bills and promotional materials.

Prominent cable TV companies like Comcast, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, and satellite providers like Dish Network fall under the scope of this proposal.

The size of the Broadcasting and Cable TV market was valued at $300 billion in 2022. It is projected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 3 percent from 2023 to 2032 due to the digitization of distribution infrastructure and the demand for regional & niche content.

President Biden emphasized the common occurrence of these companies disguising additional charges, referred to as ‘broadcast TV’ or ‘regional sports’ fees, which do not actually provide any additional services.

Biden has consistently criticized various industries, such as airlines, credit card providers, and concert ticket websites, for implementing hidden fees that mislead consumers and ultimately result in higher costs for families.

FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel stated that the proposed “all-in” pricing format would enable consumers to make informed decisions by facilitating comparisons among different providers and evaluating programming costs in relation to alternative options, including streaming services.

The proposal will now undergo a 90-day public comment period before being voted on by the full FCC.

NCTA-The Internet & Television Association, an industry group representing major cable TV companies, has not yet responded to requests for comment.

ACA Connects, which represents smaller video providers, has expressed their commitment to transparency in sales and billing practices. The group wants to ensure that any new requirements do not inadvertently complicate or obscure video prices for subscribers.

In November, the FCC finalized rules that obligated U.S. broadband internet providers to display information resembling nutrition labels on food products. These labels assist consumers in making informed choices when shopping for broadband internet services by displaying prices, speeds, fees, and data allowances. The FCC initially introduced these labels as a voluntary measure in 2016.