Cable Bills Are About to Change — for the Better

Photo by Liderina / Shutterstock.com

Hidden TV charges soon will become a thing of the past.

Cable and satellite TV companies will be required to disclose “the total monthly charge” for a service under a newly enacted federal law, the Television Viewer Protection Act.

That total charge — which must be disclosed before a consumer enters into a contract — includes:

  • “Related administrative fees, equipment fees, or other charges,
  • A good faith estimate of any tax, fee, or charge imposed by the Federal Government or a State or local government (whether imposed on the provider or imposed on the consumer but collected by the provider), and
  • A good faith estimate of any fee or charge that is used to recover any other assessment imposed on the provider by the Federal Government or a State or local government.”

These disclosures apply to TV services that consumers sign up for individually or as part of a bundle.

Consumer Reports, which strongly supported the Television Viewer Protection Act, notes that, currently, consumers often don’t learn of the full cost of a TV service until they receive their first bill.

Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel for Consumer Reports, explains:

“Cable companies shouldn’t be allowed to disguise the true cost of service by charging a long list of add-on fees that aren’t clearly disclosed when customers sign up for service. These reforms will bring fairness and clarity to pay-TV billing, so we can find a plan that fits our budget without having to worry about getting stuck paying hidden fees.”

While the U.S. House first passed the Television Viewer Protection Act in early December, the bill only made it through both chambers of Congress in late December because it was added to a package of spending bills that fund the federal government for fiscal year 2020.

President Donald Trump signed that package into law Dec. 20.

The provision of the Television Viewer Protection Act that requires transparent cable and satellite TV bills takes effect six months after the bill was enacted — that is, six months after Dec. 20.

The law also states, however, that the Federal Communications Commission may grant an additional six-month extension if the federal agency “finds that good cause exists for such an additional extension.”

What’s your take on this news? Sound off by commenting below or on the Money Talks News Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
5 Reasons You Should Work for as Long as You Live
5 Reasons You Should Work for as Long as You Live

These benefits might make you think twice about retirement.

Drivers Give These 5 Car Insurers the Highest Marks
Drivers Give These 5 Car Insurers the Highest Marks

One company claimed the top ranking in several categories.

The 5 Most Expensive U.S. States for Retirees
The 5 Most Expensive U.S. States for Retirees

If you expect to have modest retirement income, you may want to avoid spending your golden years here.

Beware These 5 Common Work-From-Home Scams
Beware These 5 Common Work-From-Home Scams

You can spot scammers and con artists with a little know-how.

8 Amazon Picks Under $30 for Coffee Lovers
8 Amazon Picks Under $30 for Coffee Lovers

We’ve brewed up a list of amazing Amazon products that are sure to perk you up.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy

If you’re a true tightwad, the mere thought of spending money on these items gives you the willies.

10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making
10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making

You might as well flush your money down the loo if you spend it on these things.

7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now
7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now

Confusion over Social Security is a shame, considering how many of us will need this money badly.

9 Shopping Mistakes to Avoid at Costco
9 Shopping Mistakes to Avoid at Costco

Are you missing out on serious savings at your favorite warehouse club?

The 16 Cars Most Likely to Last 200,000 Miles
The 16 Cars Most Likely to Last 200,000 Miles

One automaker takes half the spots on a list of the longest-lasting vehicles.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

They don’t make coffee makers like this anymore.

14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021
14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021

These convenient household products come with hidden costs that you might not have considered.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

Is Writing a Check Still Safe?
Is Writing a Check Still Safe?

Every time you pay by check, you hand your bank account numbers to a stranger.

6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers
6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers

Imagine having $245,000 stolen from your retirement account — and not being reimbursed.

8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today
8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today

Being frugal isn’t smart if you put off replacing these items.

This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.
This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.

This brand’s vehicles are least likely to give drivers repair headaches, according to J.D. Power.

9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

Will Stimulus Checks Increase Your Social Security Taxes?
Will Stimulus Checks Increase Your Social Security Taxes?

Could all those “free” checks prove costly down the road?

7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking
7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking

There’s more to Social Security than retirement benefits.

7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know
7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know

These little-known departments of Amazon are gold mines for deal-seekers and impulse shoppers alike.

13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook
7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook

Did you realize all these tax credits and deductions exist — or that they apply to retirees?

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.