FCC Fines Comcast $2.3 Million in Largest Civil Penalty for Erroneous Charges

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Today, the Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau ordered Comcast Corporation to pay $2.3 million to “resolve an investigation into whether the company wrongfully charged cable TV customers for [unauthorized] services and equipment.” The fine marks the largest civil penalty levied by the FCC against a cable provider. Reports of subscribers paying bills for services, set-top boxes, or DVRs that they did not ask for -- and in some cases that they affirmatively said they did not want -- should be unthinkable, yet continues to happen anyway.

The following can be attributed to Kate Forscey, Government Affairs Associate Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“Public Knowledge heartily applauds the Commission for this essential enforcement action. For too long, Comcast customers have been charged for unordered services, speeds, and products and equipment that they do not want. The Commission’s action today provides both relief and validation for Comcast customers everywhere, while sending an important message to the industry as a whole.

“After Congressional hearings, an investigation spearheaded by Senators Portman and McCaskill, public outrage, and a two-decade long fight to bring competition into the set-top box/video device marketplace, it is high time that this type of subscriber extortion is addressed. The FCC’s action with Comcast also highlights more systemic competitive problems in the cable and broadband industries, which provide no market-based incentives to discourage behavior that abuses consumers.

“We are encouraged that the Commission has demonstrated an appetite for vigilance and ensuring any other business that engages in such practices is also held to task.”

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