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Wide Open West Raises Rates, Hikes 'Broadcast TV Fee'
by Karl Bode 06:15PM Monday Dec 02 2013
Last week we noted that Comcast is only the latest pay TV provider to pass on broadcast industry retransmission fee hikes in new below the line fees, even though they're also passing on those costs via standard rate hikes. Users in our Wide Open West forum (WOW) note that WOW is also making heavy use of the fee, a notice being sent to consumers informing users they'll not only see hikes, the "Broadcast TV Surcharge" will be increased to $4 per month for many.

The company's website gives this explanation for the fee:
quote:
WOW! will impose a Broadcast TV Surcharge on those customers who subscribe (whether alone or as part of a bundle of services) to any WOW! cable television service (except limited basic). This surcharge is not a government mandated tax or fee and is subject to change. The surcharge is in addition to other charges associated with the WOW! cable television services.
As noted previously, even though retrans hikes are technically just the cost of doing business, burying them below the line allows companies to artificially keep their advertised rates the same.

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Proof

@comcast.net

Any proof that this statement true ?

Any proof that this statement true ?

quote:
pass on broadcast industry retransmission fee hikes in new below the line fees, they're also passing on those costs via standard rate hikes
That may be a guess and not proof since access to cost components not publicly available.

mix

join:2002-03-19
Utica, MI

Re: Any proof that this statement true ?

What kind of proof are you looking for? Do Comcast or WOW add a surcharge to your bill every time a non broadcast tv provider (HBO, Showtime, Turner, ESPN, whatever...) negotiate a new pricier contract with them? I don't think so. If I sign up for a contract with WOW that promises a fixed fee for x number of years, I don't expect you can get around the contract amount by adding a "Surcharge" whenever you feel like it.

TitoXx
Premium
join:2003-03-19
Sterling Heights, MI

Got one today...

I got a notice today for my hsi, it's going up by $2.
Bob61571

join:2008-08-08
Washington, IL
Reviews:
·MTCO Communicati..
·DIRECTV
·Frontier Communi..

I would love to see an Itemized Bill with ....

Every channel/family of channels listed, such as(do not rely on the below amounts, they are just an example):

ESPN channels 8.75
Disney channels 3.00
Discovery channels 4.00
Local NBC .75
Local CBS .75
Local Fox .75
Local ABC .75
Local Independents .40
Viacom channels(VH1, MTV, MTV2, etc.) 1.33
(etc., etc.)
............
Total for all cable channels for your SuperFantastic package: $89.93
CXM_Splicer
Looking at the bigger picture
Premium
join:2011-08-11
NYC
kudos:2

Re: I would love to see an Itemized Bill with ....

That would be fine IF they also gave you an option to Opt-out of those networks. Without that option itemization would have no teeth; people will still be paying.

There is also nothing to prevent the Broadcasters from requiring cable companies to include the pricing in their 'package'... in other words, no line items allowed if they want the channels.

tc1uscg

join:2005-03-09
Clinton Township, MI

Re: I would love to see an Itemized Bill with ....

I would like to see the FCC requirement that if said channel can be piped in on an antenna, by passing your cable provider, you should be able to OPT out of that channel. They have no problems blocking channels you DON'T PAY for but they can't block local tv?
CXM_Splicer
Looking at the bigger picture
Premium
join:2011-08-11
NYC
kudos:2

Re: I would love to see an Itemized Bill with ....

I would agree that would be a realistic change that would benefit many customers. The problem with it is that the cable companies also profit from those channels (though they blame all the cost on retrans fees). As soon as people started opting out, their revenue would go down and that is the last thing they want. More than likely what would happen is the retrans fees would disappear as a line item and the bill would remain the same even if you opted out.
elray

join:2000-12-16
Santa Monica, CA
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·EarthLink

Not buried

Karl has it backwards.

These charges are explicit. They are not hidden or buried. Cable puts them in the light day for all to see, and consumers shrug.

I, too, would like to see an end to all "below the line" charges, including all taxes, fees, unfees, surcharges, "contribution checkoffs", government-mandated, regulatory cost recovery, and of course, USF, Al Gore, E-rate, and whatever other nonsense they'll cook up, and instead, have it all be "buried" in the base rate.

This would put the shoe solely (sorry) on the foot of the seller to defend the consumer against these excesses, rather than have us fend for ourselves.

Kramer
Premium,Mod
join:2000-08-03
Richmond, VA
kudos:2

Re: Not buried

said by elray:

These charges are explicit.

You sure about that? Ever try getting an answer as to what those fees might be before you sign up for something? I'm in the middle of that right now and I can't get a straight answer. It is exactly as Karl states. These fees are used to mask price increases in the advertised rates. They are as hidden as they could be up until the point you get your first bill.
elray

join:2000-12-16
Santa Monica, CA
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·EarthLink

Re: Not buried

The charges are on the bill, in writing, assuming you aren't so quick to point-and-click your way to the convenience of automated bill payments so you can act outraged later at what you didn't read. That's explicit and irrefutable.

When I deal with actual cable/telco/utility order processing, I have little trouble getting a pretty precise number from them, and I write down all of the details at the time of the call, and read it back to them for accuracy. Occasionally, especially with telco, I have to fight them the following month(s) to get it applied properly, but for the most part, even with business accounts, cable options have made much of that problem go away.
Kearnstd
Space Elf
Premium
join:2002-01-22
Mullica Hill, NJ
kudos:1
I think taxes should be separate in ads but available online.

I do agree that fees should be illegal in every business not just telecom. Fees exist solely to hide out the door price products and services.

As I like to put it, Why you buy a package of steaks at the supermarket there is no "Prep Fee" for it being sliced "Refrigerated Storage and Display Fee" for it being in the nice open cold cases. And there is no "Cashier Checkout Fee" for using a normal register instead of those more trouble than they are worth and should be burned with thermite self checkouts.
Nope that is all the price of their business operation and what you see on the label is what you pay up front(especially since food groceries are non taxable)

Telecom would of course add all my ass pulled fees to products if they ran a supermarket.
--
[65 Arcanist]Filan(High Elf) Zone: Broadband Reports
elray

join:2000-12-16
Santa Monica, CA

Re: Not buried

I find it hypocritical to favor below-the-line taxes, while assailing other below-the-line charges. Both have the same effect of obfuscating (and minimizing) the actual cost.
fantom1979

join:2002-05-31
Sterling Heights, MI
Reviews:
·Comcast

Re: Not buried

said by elray:

Both have the same effect of obfuscating (and minimizing) the actual cost

Yes they do, but taxes are a required cost that comes from the government that Comcast (or whomever) company cannot control. A fuel surcharge, or broadcast transmission fee, or shopping cart recovery fee used to be part of doing business. It is placed below the line BY THE COMPANY, for the sole purpose of misleading customers in its advertising of its pricing. If it was up to me, all pricing including taxes would be required to be advertised. But at the very least, companies should not be allowed to hide their cost of doing business charges below the line.

tc1uscg

join:2005-03-09
Clinton Township, MI
Don't forget the shopping cart recovery fee.

linicx
Caveat Emptor
Premium
join:2002-12-03
United State
Reviews:
·TracFone Wireless
·CenturyLink

My solution

My cure for the outrageous fees and lousy service was to get a phone and uncapped Internet from telco, and entertainment from DISH. I pay less than $125 with no hidden fees. If I wanted to drop to the basic tier I could reduce my total bill $20+ tax.
--
Mac: No windows, No Gates, Apple inside

tc1uscg

join:2005-03-09
Clinton Township, MI

Re: My solution

Yeah, no hidden fee's from Dish. When I signedup 2 years ago, NO WHERE did it say I had to PAY to send back my boxes when I terminated services. However, they wanted to charge me a nice sum to send back 2 dvr's and 3 rcvr's and had X amount of days to send back the LNB. When I asked who do I send my LNB recover fee invoice, and explained I would hunt down a dish tech (truck) and hand over the rcvr's, I was told they would send me prepaid shipping boxes. But I never found where it said they would charge me to return the equipment.

linicx
Caveat Emptor
Premium
join:2002-12-03
United State
Reviews:
·TracFone Wireless
·CenturyLink

Re: My solution

This is an incident I never heard. If you terminate early, and if you are a renter what you state may be policy; I don't know. I was not a renter. When I moved I was instructed to take the receivers and remotes, and leave the dish in place. Three years later I still have unclaimed Direct TV receivers and remotes.

When I wrote "No hidden fees" I should have written, "no below the line hidden fees."
--
Mac: No windows, No Gates, Apple inside