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FCC Proposes Crackdown on Cable TV ‘Junk Fees’

 |  December 14, 2023

In a move aimed at protecting consumers and promoting competition, the United States government has proposed a crackdown on cable television companies’ billing practices.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced plans to ban early-termination fees and introduce new rules that could lead to consumer refunds if a subscriber cancels a plan mid-month, reported CNN.

The proposal, put forth by the FCC, seeks to impose additional restrictions on the cable and satellite industry to combat what is commonly referred to as “junk fees.” The initiative aims to improve competition in the market, as highlighted by Democratic agency chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. The commission voted 3-2 along partisan lines to launch the proceeding.

Rosenworcel emphasized that the proposed rules could benefit millions of Americans who wish to switch cable providers or are compelled to do so due to relocation. Many subscribers currently face terms that effectively lock them into their existing provider, she noted. Major cable and satellite providers like Comcast and Dish Network could be directly affected by these changes.

“These friction-filled tactics to keep us subscribing to our current providers are aggravating and unfair,” remarked Rosenworcel. “So today we kick off a rulemaking to put an end to these practices.” The move aligns with a White House executive order signed by President Joe Biden in 2021, encouraging the federal government to identify ways to enhance competition across the U.S. economy. President Biden has consistently prioritized addressing “junk fees” as a key component of his economic agenda, targeting industries such as banking, financial advising, live event ticketing, and now cable television.

Related: Biden Administration Proposes Rules Targeting ‘Junk Fees’

However, not all commissioners were in favor of the proposal. Republicans on the FCC voted against the move, arguing that it unfairly singles out one industry and is likely to provoke legal challenges, accusing the agency of exceeding its authority.

As the FCC advances its efforts to reshape cable TV billing practices, the proposed rules could usher in a new era for consumers seeking greater flexibility and fairness in their subscription services. The debate between Democrats and Republicans on the FCC underscores the contentious nature of these proposed changes and the potential legal battles that may ensue in the quest for a more consumer-friendly cable television landscape.

Source: Edition CNN