On March 14, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted new rules that require cable television operators and satellite video providers to specify the aggregate monthly all-in price for video programming services on customer bills, any advertising, and all promotional materials in a "clear, easy-to-understand, and accurate single line-item."

The price must include all charges for broadcast stations, sports programming, and any other programming. Other line items such as taxes, administrative fees, equipment fees, franchise fees, and fees for public, educational, and governmental (PEG) channels are not required to be part of the all-in price.

The FCC's action represents the latest iteration of the Biden administration's broader "whole of government" attack on what it views as "junk fees" and opaque pricing. The rule was significantly controversial, drawing concerns from industry stakeholders that the rule could potentially distort competition, as well as the two dissenting FCC Republican commissioners.

Under the new rules, if a customer receives a promotional price, the bill must show either the length of time for the promotion or the specific date it will end, and billing statements 60 days and 30 days before the end of the promotional period must include the post-promotion all-in price that applies after the expiration of the promotion. All promotional materials that offer a promotional or introductory rate must also disclose the time period of the promotion or the date when the promotional rate will end, in addition to the all-in price after the promotion ends.

If the all-in price varies by location, providers may advertise a starting price or a range of prices, but that range must include the highest all-in price that could apply. Providers must then disclose in the advertising or marketing where and how customers may obtain the actual all-in price for their service area. When a potential customer then contacts the provider and provides an actual location, the provider must then be prepared to supply the all-in price for that location.

The rule does not take effect immediately, but providers will be required to comply with the new rules either by December 19, 2024, or by the date when the Office of Management and Budget completes its review, whichever is later. Providers that have less than $47 million in annual receipts are given a slightly longer period to bring their marketing into compliance, and have until March 19, 2025, or until OMB approval, whichever is later.

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