Charter Customers Surprised To See ‘Broadcast TV Fee’ For Streaming Service

Image courtesy of Justice Gustine

Earlier this year, Charter subscribers in Massachusetts began noticing a significant increase in their cable bill attributed to a new “Broadcast TV surcharge.” Now it appears these pesky and costly fees have migrated to the company’s new streaming service. 

According to a new report from DSL Reports, subscribers of Charter’s 51-channel trial Spectrum Stream service were surprised to find a $6 fee tacked onto their monthly bill.

This means that the most customers who were expecting a $20/month bill actually received a $26, representing a 30% increase from their expectations.

However, this doesn’t give a complete look at the entire Spectrum Stream bill. Customers tell DSLReports that the total bill of one month was nearly $30 after taxes. Consumerist has reached out to Charter for additional information on the Spectrum Stream fee. We’ll update this post when we hear back.

What Are These Fees?

These “Broadcast TV” fees and surcharges have been proliferating across all cable carriers in recent years. For instance, Charter already charges the fees for many of its traditional cable subscribers, most recently in Massachusetts.

The Charter bill we broke down in 2016 had a $6.05 “broadcast TV fee” on it, for example, and both Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks — now part of the New Charter’s giant footprint — already charged broadcast TV fees as well.

Distributors, like Charter, say they charge these extra fees to recoup costs associated with purchasing the right to distribute local channels. Since the 1990s, local broadcast stations have been permitted to negotiate their retransmission rates with cable companies, and cable companies have, in turn, passed those costs on to consumers.

But you already pay a fee for this, it’s your entire cable bill, as providers pay networks and channels for the right to put their content in your lineup, and you pay the cable company for the ability to access that lineup.