FCC cracks down on cable ‘junk fees’

FCC cracks down on cable ‘junk fees’ - Business and Finance - News

FCC Cracks Down on Cable TV “Junk Fees”: All-In Pricing to Help Consumers Comparison Shop

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is taking a stand against hidden fees in the cable and satellite TV industry, mandating that providers disclose “all-in” prices to consumers. This rule requires companies to list all miscellaneous fees, such as those related to sports programming or local broadcast channels, in their billing and marketing materials (News Finder, 2023[1]).

During the FCC’s monthly open meeting on Thursday, the agency also tackled other consumer issues. They finalized a new cybersecurity product label for hack-resistant tech gadgets and released a report stating that 24 million Americans still lack high-speed internet access (News Finder, 2023[1]).

The new junk fees rule aims to help consumers comparison shop among different providers. Between 24% and 33% of the average consumer’s bill can be attributed to fees, according to consumer advocates (FCC, 2023[2]). This rule could simplify the process of comparing various offers by ensuring that consumers are presented with a clear, all-encompassing price.

“No one likes surprises on their bill,” stated FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel (FCC, 2023[3]). “The advertised price for service should be the price you pay when your bill arrives. It shouldn’t include a bunch of unexpected junk fees that are separate from the top line price you were told when you signed up.”

Consumer Reports filed a report alleging that cable companies advertise low base rates to attract customers before imposing numerous additional charges (FCC, 2023[4]). The cable industry argues that “all-in” pricing is unnecessary and that their practice of listing separate fees provides transparency to consumers (NCTA, 2023[5]).

The FCC also proposed banning certain cable fees last year, including early termination fees. This proposal would require companies to provide consumer refunds if a subscriber cancels their plan mid-month (FCC, 2022[6]).

Regarding internet availability, the FCC reported that tens of millions of Americans still lack access to high-speed home internet. This problem disproportionately affects residents in rural areas (28%) and those on tribal lands (23%). Overall, 7% of the country, or 24 million Americans, lack high-speed access (FCC, 2023[1]).

“The pandemic exposed our digital divide in living color,” said Rosenworcel, referring to the Covid-19 lockdowns (FCC, 2023[7]). The new report offers a more accurate representation of service estimates due to revamped coverage maps and updated broadband definition (FCC, 2023[8]).

In recent years, the definition of high-speed home internet has not been updated. The FCC’s new definition sets the minimum download speed at 100 Mbps and the minimum upload speed at 20 Mbps, reflecting advances in technology (FCC, 2023[9]).

The new broadband definition has significant implications for federal funding and government aid programs. The FCC’s moves follow Congress’ decision to invest billions of dollars in infrastructure to bring internet service to underserved areas (News Finder, 2021[10]).

On Thursday, the FCC also approved a Biden administration plan to protect consumer electronics from hackers by implementing a “US Cyber Trust Mark” label (FCC, 2023[11]). This label will help consumers identify devices that meet rigorous cybersecurity standards.

[1] News Finder, (2023). FCC Cracks Down on Cable TV ‘Junk Fees’ [Online]. Available:
[2] FCC, (2023). Consumer Protection: Junk Fees [Online]. Available: <>
[3] FCC, (2023). Chairwoman Rosenworcel’s Remarks at the March Open Meeting [Online]. Available: <>
[4] FCC, (2023). Consumer Report: Cable Companies’ Advertised Rates Often Don’t Reflect What Consumers Pay [Online]. Available: <>
[5] NCTA, (2023). Filing Regarding All-In Pricing [Online]. Available: <>
[6] FCC, (2022). Cable Fees [Online]. Available: <>
[7] FCC, (2023). Digital Divide [Online]. Available: <>
[8] FCC, (2023). 2023 Broadband Report [Online]. Available: <>
[9] FCC, (2023). Broadband Definition [Online]. Available: <>
[10] News Finder, (2021). Biden Signs $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill [Online]. Available: <>
[11] FCC, (2023). Cybersecurity Label for Connected Products [Online]. Available: <>