Charter Spectrum's Bullshit 'Broadcast TV' Fee Soars To $16.45 Per Month

from the nonsensical-surcharges-may-apply dept

Like countless other American business sectors, U.S. cable and broadband providers have been using hidden fees to covertly jack up their advertised rates for much of the last decade. These fees, which utilize a rotating crop of bullshit names, help these companies falsely advertise one rate, then sock the consumer with a significantly higher rate post sale (often when locked into a long-term contract). They also let them falsely try and claim that prices haven't increased, when they pretty clearly have.

Back in 2014, Comcast introduced a new $1.50 per month surcharge on cable bills it called its "Broadcast TV Fee." Said fee was really just a portion of the cost of doing business for Comcast (programming costs), busted out of the full bill and hidden below the line -- again to help the company falsely advertise a lower price. Fast forward to 2020 and the fee is now $15 per month, per user, and growing -- despite a number of lawsuits (correctly) alleging that the fees are misleading and predatory.

And it's not just Comcast. Charter (Spectrum) has also heavily embraced such a fee, its own "broadcast TV surcharge" getting jacked from $13.50 to $16.45 a month starting in August:

Charter has raised the fee repeatedly—it stood at $9.95 in early 2019 before a series of price increases. At $16.45 a month, the fee will cost customers an additional $197.40 per year. Charter sells TV, broadband, and phone service under its Spectrum brand name and is the second largest cable company in the US after Comcast.

One other "handy" benefit to the fee (for Charter and Comcast) anyway, is that it lets the companies tap dance out of consumer "price lock" guarantees or promotional rates, by letting them pretend that arbitrary fee increases are not actual price hikes. Charter also imposes a slightly smaller Broadcast TV fee on its streaming TV plans, with that fee getting jacked from $6 to $8.95 a month. That's, of course, in addition to all the other arbitrary fees and surcharges tacked onto your monthly bill, including broadband usage caps and overage penalties.

It's the sort of running scam that would be prohibited by functioning, objective consumer protection regulators or lawmakers, were we to actually have such a thing.

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Filed Under: bogus fees, broadcast tv fee, cable tv, fcc, ftc, price increase, truth in advertising
Companies: charter, comcast


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  • identicon
    Glenn, 20 Jul 2020 @ 6:40am

    So, the most basic part of basic cable TV service now costs an additional $16+ ...and you can't even opt out ('cause you have a really good and cheap antenna that works great and you don't need freely available local TV coming from your cable provider).

    Cable TV ...lying and stealing all rolled into one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      MathFox, 20 Jul 2020 @ 6:49am

      I'ld estimate that buying an antenna and ditching the cable subscription would be an investment that earns itself back in a month.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2020 @ 7:08am

    Time to buy stock in Channel Master, Winegard, Antennas Direct?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    SirWired, 20 Jul 2020 @ 8:26am

    It's even worse

    If all you get from Spectrum is Basic Cable (which includes only Broadcast, CSPAN, Shopping Channels, and the local govt. stations... no CNN, ESPN, Discovery, etc.) Is $24/mo in my area. So the bullshit "Broadcast Fee", even when the package is almost nothing beyond broadcast, costs 60%-ish more than advertised.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2020 @ 9:35am

    I’d hate to be the last guy who still has cable TV. His bill is going to have a $9 billion surcharge on it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Celyxise (profile), 20 Jul 2020 @ 10:44am

    Oh now I get it, whenever there's a merger they always say it will increase competition. Clearly they have an intra-industry competition going on to see who can raise prices the highest. Telecom Blackjack, minus the bust.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2020 @ 8:37pm

    So... anyone seen Richard Bennett come up for air recently?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2020 @ 7:41am

    It's the sort of running scam that would be prohibited by functioning, objective consumer protection regulators or lawmakers, were we to actually have such a thing.

    Or a truly competitive market.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Vincent Clement (profile), 21 Jul 2020 @ 1:58pm

    After annual increases in all services (TV, Internet and Phone), including one year where there were two increase, and reduction and eventual elimination of bundling discounts, I dumped my TV, Internet and Phone provider and went with a local company providing FTTH.

    Do not regret that decision, especially after the CEO of my former provider stated at an AGM there is room for "reasonable" price increases. So all that talk about 'costs' from cable and broadband providers is complete and utter bullshit.

    I got way faster internet with no caps and saved over $110 a month. I subscribe to three services and I still come out about $65 ahead each month (and I can watch shows and movie anywhere). I eventually picked up a cheap indoor antenna and I'm able to get about 20 OTA channels (with no compression like my old provider). If I get a better antenna, I can probably get between 25 to 30 channels.

    So a big middle finger to the big cable and broadband providers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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