Tuesday, February 5, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Spectrum cable customers should prepare to see their bills jump again, as Spectrum (owned by Charter Communications) isreportedly set to raise its fee for access to local channels by 20 percent. The fee, generally referred to and billed as a “broadcast fee,” will increase March 1 to $11.99 from $9.95, just months after Spectrum jumped its broadcast TV surcharge from $8.85 to $9.95 a month in November.
Consumer Reports recently launched “What the Fee?!”, an organization-wide effort to highlight surprising fees and charges across industries—and help consumers fight back. The cable industry is one of the most notorious for exploiting add-on fees, such as “broadcast TV fees” and “regional sports fees,” that inflate consumers’ cable bills each month, with some of these fees increasing as much as 50 percent per year, regardless of whether consumers have “locked-in” long-term contract pricing.
Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel for Consumer Reports, said, “Spectrum’s latest fee increase is particularly outrageous, as Spectrum customers just saw their monthly fees — including this same broadcast TV fee — increase in November. Customers are fleeing pay-TV companies in record numbers, in part due to ever-increasing bills riddled with confusing, mandatory fees buried in the fine print. But rather than change their ways, cable industry giants like Spectrum continue to use their near-monopoly grips to extract more money from their existing customers to pad their profits.”
As these monthly increases pile up, they can quickly turn into budget busters. Combined with price increases, Spectrum’s November fee hike put customers on the hook for shelling out up to nearly $100 more per year.
Since the launch of What The Fee?!? in mid-2018, four pay-TV providers have announced fee and/or price increases, and the attorneys general for Massachusetts and Minnesota have taken action against industry-leader Comcast for promoting its long-term contracts without clearly disclosing thefull monthly price and possibility of increasing monthly fees at any point during the long-term contracts.
Consumer Reports is helping Spectrum customers voice their frustration with fee increases to Charter executives. All fee-frustrated cable customers can also join the more than 115,000 consumers that have signed Consumer Reports’ petition calling on the entire cable industry to eliminate add-on fees and clearly advertise the full price of their service so that consumers can effectively comparison shop.
To learn more about the What the Fee?! campaign and share your own experience with fees, visit www.WhatTheFee.com.