Why you should look closely at your cable TV bill

Typical cable TV bill includes $450 in annual fees

SAN ANTONIO – If you look closely at your cable TV bill, you might be surprised to find fees you’ve never even heard of driving up your cost.

Consumers can find relief from surprise fees by cutting the cord and from a new federal protection law.

The average cable subscriber pays nearly $450 in fees every year ranging from broadcast TV fees, regional sports fees, set-top box or rental fees and more, according to a Consumer Reports study.

“These fees are hidden,” said Jonathan Schwantes, of Consumer Reports. “Consumers are confused by them. Most importantly, they’re getting worse and they’re expensive.”

One way to cut those fees is to cut the cable TV cord. A good quality digital antenna costs about $35 and can tune in local stations for free.

Streaming services on a smart TV or streaming device typically charge a monthly subscription fee. For example, YouTubeTV costs $50 a month. Premium Netflix runs $16 a month.

Relief is on the way from Washington, too. Congress recently passed the Television Viewer Protection Act that does three basic things.

“It requires cable companies to disclose at the point of sale what your total overall price is going to be, including all fees (and) taxes,” Schwantes said.

Secondly, if you don’t like the price, you have 24 hours to cancel the deal without penalty.

Third, you no longer will have to pay for rental equipment such has Wi-Fi routers that you don’t even use.

The law is expected to go into effect June 20.

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