US telecom regulator wants to bar cable TV early-termination fees

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Federal Communications Commission Chair Jessica Rosenworcel on Tuesday proposed to bar cable and satellite TV providers from charging consumers early-termination fees to exit contracts.

Rosenworcel said the commission will take an initial vote on Dec. 13 on the plan, which would also require TV video-service providers to refund subscribers if they cancel prior to the end of that billing cycle. She cited President Joe Biden’s executive order that encourages the FCC and other agencies to take steps to crack down on what the administration calls “junk fees.”

Since Democrats took control of the FCC in early October, Rosenworcel has moved quickly to set new rules.

The FCC last month voted to advance a proposal to reinstate landmark net-neutrality rules and assume new regulatory oversight of broadband internet rescinded under former President Donald Trump.

Last week, the FCC adopted final rules to prevent digital discrimination in access to broadband services under a directive from Congress. Under the new rules, the FCC can investigate broadband access discrimination complaints and can issue penalties to companies violating the rules. “We have created a process that is aimed at finding solutions that work for all parties,” Rosenworcel said.

Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said the plan gives “the federal government a roving mandate to micromanage nearly every aspect of how the Internet functions.”

In November 2022, the FCC said U.S. broadband providers must display information similar to nutrition labels on food products to help consumers shop for broadband internet services.

The rules require broadband providers to display, at the point of sale, labels that show prices, speeds, fees and data allowances.

The FCC in June granted initial approval to a proposal requiring cable operators and direct broadcast satellite providers to specify the “all-in” price clearly and prominently for video programming service in promotional materials and on subscribers’ bills.

(Reporting by David Shepardson in WashingtonEditing by Matthew Lewis)