Higher Retrans Fees Lead Spectrum To Raise Rates


The thorny subject of retransmission consent revenue has resulted in a firm line in the sand between broadcast TV station owners and MVPDs. The owners of over-the-air channels argue that their programming is more valuable than ever, and they should be duly compensated from cable TV service providers profiting from such stations’ placement on their local channel lineups.

MVPDs and their lobbying organizations, in response, have assailed broadcast TV companies for being too greedy, and for using retrans income hikes to mask the slide in advertising revenue impacting their stations.

Now, rising retrans fees have led one of the nation’s biggest MVPDs to raise their rates, with consumers having to foot the bill for more costly cable carriage of “free” channels.

As reported by broadband advocacy watchdog website Stop The Cap!, citing Charter Communications Spectrum employees, a rate increase is planned that will see a new fee schedule arrive as soon as August. This information was confirmed on Thursday (7/9) by the website.

Spectrum customers will now be faced with a Broadcast TV Fee surcharge of $16.45 per month, rising by $2.95 per month.

It covers the rise in retransmission costs, Spectrum explained.

What about customers of Spectrum’s streaming TV packages, such as TV Choice. The Broadcast TV Fee will also increase by $2.95 per month, to $8.95 per month.

There’s more: the dominant cable services provider in markets such as New York, Los Angeles and Hawaii will hike the cost of its TV Select package to $73.99, a $1.50 monthly price increase.

Customers on a promotional pricing plan will not see this rate increase until their promotional pricing expires, the website notes.

In an explanation offered to “Cord Cutters News,” another watchdog website, Spectrum explained, “As a direct result of local broadcast or ‘network-affiliated’ TV stations in recent years dramatically increasing the rates to Charter Communications to distribute their signals to our customers, we’re forced to pass those charges on … These local TV signals were historically made available to us at no cost or low cost. However, in recent years the prices demanded by local broadcast TV stations have necessitated that we pass these costs on to customers.”