Congress Adopts New Cable Operator Advertising And Billing Requirements Affecting Both Video And Broadband Internet Offerings

Author:Mr Craig A. Gilley
Profession:Venable LLP
 
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As part of the 2019 year-end congressional appropriations wrap-up free-for-all, Congress adopted a new Section 642 of the Communications Act that significantly changes how a cable operator advertises and bills video subscribers. The law applies to both stand-alone video programming packages and the video portion of bundled plans that combine video programming with broadband Internet service.

Under the law, cable operators must change their billing practices as follows by June 20, 2020.

Cable operators must inform customers at the point of sale of thetotal monthly charge for video service, including: The total monthly charge for the video service or the video service portion of a service bundle; The amount of any promotional discounts reflected in the monthly charge for video services, and a statement of when that discount will expire; Any video-specific administrative fees, equipment fees, or any other monthly surcharges (e.g., retransmission consent and/or regional sports network surcharges); A good faith estimate of any tax, fee, or charge imposed on the consumer or provider by any federal, state, or local government; and A good faith estimate of any fee or charge used to recover any other assessment imposed on the provider by any federal, state, or local government. Within 24 hours of a cable operator entering into a service contract with a customer, the cable operator must send the consumer, by email, online link, or other comparable...

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