Consumer groups urge Congress to examine pay-TV billing practices
Michelle Clancy
| 12 June 2014
A coalition of public interest groups has called on congressional leadership in the United States to expand its ongoing examination of the video marketplace to include an investigation of existing billing and business practices of the cable and satellite TV industry.

In joint letters to the respective US Senate and House Commerce Committees, and their respective Subcommittees on Communications,, Media Alliance and The Hispanic Institute said that lawmakers should consider erroneous overbilling, equipment rental fees, early termination fees, and inflated or unnecessary 'extra' charges as part of their inquiry.

"Only congressional leadership and expertise can help loosen the cable and satellite TV operators' bottleneck-grip on the marketplace and provide monetary relief to pay-TV customers across the country," the coalition said.

Congressional committees are in the process of taking up an investigation to update the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

In describing their concerns to Congress, the groups wrote, "the marketplace has failed to adequately address significant annual increases in consumers' monthly pay-TV bills. As a result, consumer choice for video service across the country remains limited and family budgets must bear the heavy financial burden of ever-escalating monthly pay-TV bills."

The groups also urged the committees to examine ways that pay-TV operators can make consumers' monthly bills easier to understand, and take steps to more clearly define the federal government's role in video marketplace truth-in-billing practices