Comcast Only Latest to Bury Retrans Hikes in Below the Line Fees
Cable operators have made their dislike of broadcast industry retransmission fee hikes very clear, and as you'd expect those price hikes are being passed on to you. Curiously though, instead of just raising the price of services (which they do anyway), cable operators have taken to placing these fees below the line, where they can jack up customer prices further -- but keep the advertised rate the same.
AT&T recently jacked up the price of their "Broadcast TV Surcharge" to an additional $2.50 per month
for U-Verse TV users.
"While broadcast stations distribute their signals over the air using free spectrum granted to them by the federal government, they charge Charter significant amounts to carry their TV signals," Charter's website
informs customers. Charter was one of the first cable companies to start charging the fee
"These signals were historically made available to Charter at no cost, or low cost. However, the prices now demanded by broadcast stations have necessitated that we pass these costs on to customers," states the company. Why this cost can't simply be reflected in your overall bill instead of being hidden below the line isn't made clear.
Meanwhile, cable operators who don't yet charge this fee probably will soon. As noted last week
, Comcast is the latest to join the fun, charging customers $1.50 more a month on top of frequent rate hikes via their "Broadcast TV fee." Many Comcast regions will begin paying the new fee on January 1.
Regulators have long turned a blind eye to the practice of burying fees below the line
to pretend to keep their advertised prices artificially low(er). The "regulatory recovery" fee is another fee commonly found on cable operator bills, imposed to rather ambiguously counter the cost of entirely unspecific government regulation, edging ever skyward even as the amount of actual regulation on cable operators decreases.
It's not getting better anytime soon. A recent report by SNL Kagan predicts that retransmission consent fees are expected to jump 130% by 2019.
Re: Putting as separate line item is PR leverage
said by Crookshanks:The FCC does have the power to affect how retransmission contracts are handled: »www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/retrans···-consent
What the hell is the FCC going to do about it? Congress passed the law, there are exactly three people you need to complain to about it, and not one of them works for the FCC.
If you're going to get riled up about something you should at least familiarize yourself with it.
Re: Putting as separate line item is PR leverage I love when people link things without reading them.
Pray tell, what part of that document suggests the FCC has any teeth whatsoever when it comes to carriage disputes?
quote:Awesome, they can provide guidance on good-faith negotiation! As if the parties are negotiating in bad faith, seeking to deliberately cut consumers off from their respective products.
On March 3, 2011, the Commission adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking(NPRM) on proposed changes to the retransmission consent rules that would minimize disruptions to consumers if an agreement between the parties was not reached. Specifically, the NPRM asks for comment on proposals that would:
Provide more guidance to the negotiating parties on good-faith negotiation requirements;
Improve notice to consumers in advance of possible service disruptions caused by impasses in retransmission consent negotiations; and
Eliminate the Commissions network non-duplication and syndicated exclusivity rules, which provide a means for parties to enforce certain exclusive contractual rights to network or syndicated programming through the Commission rather than through the courts.
Team America wisdom:
Hans Blix: I'm sorry, but the UN must be firm with you. Let me see your whole palace, or else...
Kim Jong-il: Or erse what?
Hans Blix: Or else we will be very, very angry with you... And we will write you a letter, telling you how angry we are.
Frankly, I'm not sure Congress has any teeth here either, given the changes in the TV marketplace, but at least it's the proper place to start trying to affect change in our political system, not an unelected regulatory agency that has limited authority on the subject in question.
BTW, I say all this as someone who gets all of his original programming via OTA, and who stands to lose much of it in the years to come. The advertising dollars just aren't cutting it anymore, so what choice do the major networks have? They can reduce costs (more cheap reality TV), increase revenues where allowed (carriage fees), or use a combination of the two to remain economically viable, which is what they're doing.
Even with these measures I'm not sure how much longer the current model is sustainable. Cable has proven that people are willing to pay for original programming, even with commercials (it's not just HBO anymore), Netflix is further disrupting the ecosystem by moving us closer to a la carte, and the major networks have considerable legacy costs that their competitors don't have to contend with.
I would never suggest trying to stop innovation, but it's still a bit depressing to think about the choice I'll be looking at in the next few years: pay more or go without.
At least those of us on OTA will still have syndicated shows and PBS.
Re: Putting as separate line item is PR leverage They want to double-dip to make more $$$. They shouldn't be allowed to do that. In all reality, the good content is going to move to cable, the big networks all own channels, and the whole Aereo thing will factor in too. They will probably throw a hissy fit, everyone will go tell them to stuff it because they're a bunch of cry-babies crying over their big piles of cash, and then they will slowly, quietly, move all the good content to cable, and OTA will be syndicated garbage, old movies, and re-runs with some local news, and that will be that. Another problem is that there are way too much channels, so you get a lot of junky content. If there were relatively few channels, and each one got a good amount of money from carriage fees, there would be more high-quality content, and things would be cheaper. Hopefully a-la-carte is brought about somehow, as that will force the networks to compete, and in the process, be better.
Re: Putting as separate line item is PR leverage
said by BiggA:How are they double dipping? By charging for advertisements and retransmission? Every cable channel has done that since the beginning and nobody called it double dipping. I don't think it's pure greed, I doubt the ad dollars alone allow them to break even. Production costs for everything (except reality garbage) are going up, ad dollars are going down, the difference has to come from somewhere.
They want to double-dip to make more $$$.
I agree with the rest of your analysis, though I think that some original programming will remain OTA. It will slowly become the exception, rather than the rule, but it will be a long time before it goes away entirely. PBS isn't going anywhere, and we may see a return to first run syndication for a few shows produced by independent studios.
Comcast should List the Fees for ALL Channels....... (example only, I do not have any knowledge of what they pay for each channel)
Disney Channel $2.23
Weather Channel $.50
QVC pays Comcast $.10
NBC Sports (owned by Comcast) $1.11
Total for all Channels in your Super Deluxe HD Plus Magnificent package $59.99
| |Mr Matt
Re: Broadcast fees
said by biochemistry:The cable leaches are up their old tricks adding additional fees with no benefit to their customers for those fees. Unless you live in an area like Port Jervis, New York or Melbourne, Florida, or other cities, where there is no OTA signal there is no option, to install an antenna for consumers. When most TV stations moved to the UHF band they severely limited their signal range.
Sadly many people don't realize that broadcast HD can be picked up via an antenna.
Cable systems were constructed in cities where OTA signals were not available to allow homeowners to watch broadcast television. Allowing OTA stations to charge retransmission fees is outrageous. Broadcasters should be happy when a cable systems carry their signal because they get more eyeballs to view their sponsors advertisements. TV Stations have already been given a license to operate on an assigned frequency at no charge. If retransmissions fees are allowed, why not charge homeowners an antenna fee or a license fee per TV like they do in the U.K.