If you’ve scrutinized your first Comcast bill of the year this month, you probably noticed (or didn’t notice) that you got charged more in fees.
Beginning January 1st, the cable giant hiked its broadcast-TV and regional sports fees, yet again.
Cable TV customers are now paying two dollars more for each—$7 for broadcast-TV and $5 for regional sports. These charges are listed under the “Other Charges & Credits” section of your bill.
If you’re a subscriber paying both charges, that adds up to $144 in those fees alone for the year, a whopping $48 more than what you paid just last year.
While the pair of fees may sound like some kind of mandatory regulatory charge, they’re not. The fees are Comcast’s effort to itemize the growing cost of distribution rights. Comcast must pay programming costs for networks like NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX. After the company recently inked a last-minute deal with Fox, for example, it was rumored that the monthly carriage fee for the channel had gone up.
Whether the rising price of network carriage contracts should be reflected on the customer’s bill is a contentious issue that’s already a class action lawsuit that was filed against the cable giant last October. The plaintiffs allege that Comcast is falsely advertising their bundle rates by not including the fees from the get. Other providers like DirecTV and Charter charge similar fees, and Charter has come under fire, too.
Another point of concern is that Comcast owns NBC and thus many of the NBC Sports channels it puts into the TV package. As Consumerist puts it, “Comcast customers are paying that fee so Comcast can bring you Comcast-owned stations that you may or may not watch.”
When Comcast first instituted the broadcast- TV fee in 2014, it charged $1.50 a month, and the regional sports fee in 2015, its first year, cost $1 a month. To say that prices have skyrocketed in just a few years would be an understatement.
To address the growing concerns, Comcast notified customers of the annual increase beforehand and released the following statement:
“We continue to make investments in our network and technology to give customers more for their money – like faster Internet service and more WiFi hotspots, more video across viewing screens, better technology like X1 and a better customer experience. Unfortunately, the costs we are charged to carry popular networks continue to increase significantly – especially broadcast television, which is one of the largest drivers of increases in price adjustments.”
But aren’t these network investments why customers pay the company in the first place?
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Source URL: https://www.phillymag.com/business/2017/01/25/comcast-fees-higher-bill/
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