FCC tackles cable box rental fees

Average household pays $231 per year

SAN ANTONIO – Have you looked at your cable bill lately? It turns out you're not just paying for TV channels.

Your cable company is also most likely charging you every month for rent on your cable box. Almost all of the 53 million cable customers in the U.S. face a monthly charge.

The bills mount up, costing the average household $231 annually, which generates almost $20 billion per year in revenue for the cable industry, according to an inquiry by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. and Sen. Ed Markey D-Mass.

Consumer Reports has a campaign to push Congress to end what it calls the cableboxopoly. Consumer Reports believes that instead of paying rental fees every month, consumers should be able to choose the best solution for getting the programming they pay for. Ideally, if cable and satellite companies would support set-top boxes from other companies, prices would come down and programming choices would open up.

You can find out about Consumer Reports campaign here: unlockthebox.com. The Federal Communications Commission is now collecting public comments on new rules for cable boxes. The final rules will need to be approved by the FCC.

The cable industry is opposed to the idea and questions the need for it, saying the cable market is already making some changes.

“The FCC has no policy need nor does it have the legal authority to impose such invasive new regulations on the thriving video marketplace,” the National Cable and Telecommunications Association said.


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