FCC proposes all-in pricing rule
June 21, 2023
By Colin Mann
US President Joe Biden has given his support for the Federal Communications Commission’s efforts to protect consumers from hidden subscription fees.
“My Administration’s top priority is lowering the cost of living for the middle class, and that includes cracking down on companies’ use of junk fees to hide true costs from families, who end up paying more as a result,” he said in a Statement. “Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), under the leadership of Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, proposed a new rule that would require cable and satellite TV providers to give consumers the all-in price for the service they’re offering up front. Too often, these companies hide additional junk fees on customer bills disguised as ‘broadcast TV’ or ‘regional sports’ fees that in reality pay for no additional services. These fees really add up: according to one report, they increase customer bills by nearly 25 per cent of the price of base service,” he noted.
“The FCC all-in pricing proposal would help consumers comparison shop between providers and increase competition for viewers. This is only the latest action taken by my Administration to crack down on junk fees in order to increase transparency, and bring down costs for hard working Americans. Junk fees may not matter much for the wealthy, but they hit working families hard, costing them hundreds of dollars that could be used to help pay their bills,” he added.
In the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), it propose to enhance pricing transparency by requiring cable operators and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) providers to specify the ‘all-in’ price for service in their promotional materials and on subscribers’ bills. This proposal would require cable operators and DBS providers to display clearly and prominently the total cost of video programming service. This all-in pricing proposal is intended to give consumers a transparent and accurate reflection of their subscription payment obligations and eliminate unexpected fees. It also seeks to provide consumers with the ability to comparison shop among competing cable operators and DBS providers, and to compare programming costs against alternative programming providers, including streaming services. The FCC is also seeking comment on whether it should consider expanding the requirements of this proceeding to other types of multichannel video programming providers () and on its authority to do so.
Rosenworcel announced the FCC’s intention to introduce such measures in March 2023.