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Charter Spectrum Finally Shows $11.99 “Broadcast TV Fee” in Price Estimates for Service

Phillip Dampier April 24, 2019 Charter Spectrum, Consumer News, Editorial & Site News 1 Comment

For the last several years, cable subscribers have lamented that the advertised price of service falls short of the real “out-the-door” cost shown on one’s monthly bill.

Charter Spectrum is one of the worst offenders, having avoided to mention in its advertising the spiraling-upwards “Broadcast TV Fee,” applied without exception to cable television customers’ bills.

The “Broadcast TV Fee,” (recently increased to $11.99 a month) is compulsory for cable TV customers and subject to change, regardless if you have a “rate guarantee” with Spectrum or not. The fee is the same for new and old customers, regardless of any promotion, and it has not been well-disclosed in Spectrum’s print and online advertising. Only customers subscribing to one of Spectrum’s new streaming TV packages will get a break. One of Spectrum’s most advertised stream-only packages applies a $5/mo Broadcast TV Fee, less than half of what Spectrum charges traditional cable TV customers for the same local stations.

As of this month, Spectrum.com now includes the fee on its price quote system for customers looking for an estimated cost of service. It adds enough to put the monthly cost of cable TV above $60 for new customers (including the rental cost of one, now-mandatory, HD-set top box), despite the fact Spectrum advertises a rate of $44.99/mo for the first year of service. This reality might further aggravate cord-cutting or “cable-TV nevers” from considering bundling television service with Spectrum.

For its part, Spectrum explains the fee represents “a fee by the owners of local broadcast ‘network-affiliated’ TV stations (affiliates of CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, and so on). This fee enables Spectrum to continue to offer these channels for our customers.”

But in fact, it is just another cost of doing business. Cable programmers also charge similar fees, and some — notably ESPN — charge more than many local stations do for cable carriage. Cable operators are trying to make a political statement about the high cost of cable carriage of local TV stations that viewers can watch for free over-the-air. But they are also trying to hide the true cost of cable television, sensitive to the fact many customers are reaching their limit on bloated TV packages of hundreds of expensive channels that mostly go unwatched. Sticker shock can only worsen cord-cutting and cause more to rule out new subscriptions to cable television, especially as cable operators continue to raise the price of broadband internet service at the same time.

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Robert Tucker
Robert Tucker
8 months ago

Currently being charged $13.50 for broadcast fee. Also $13.50 broadcast fee even on vacation hold. Told to bad/to sad, if don’t linke cancel service.

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