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Public Knowledge Applauds Congress for Passing Pay-TV Protections for Consumers

December 19, 2019 , , ,

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate passed appropriations legislation containing provisions to prevent consumers from losing access to TV content, experiencing blackouts, and facing unexpected bills. The provisions require satellite and cable providers to disclose the entire cost of their services — including fees, equipment rentals, and taxes to consumers prior to purchase. We anticipate this legislation will be signed into law by President Trump. Public Knowledge is pleased that Congress was able to protect consumers under a stringent deadline.

The following can be attributed to Jenna Leventoff, Senior Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“Today, Congress ensured that television viewers won’t lose access to broadcast content, experience blackouts, or face hidden fees upon the start of the new decade. We are thrilled that Congress made permanent the requirement that television providers and broadcasters negotiate with each other in good faith — thereby reducing the likelihood that consumers pay runaway fees or experience blackouts.

“While Public Knowledge was vocal in opposition to certain parts of this legislation that could produce a monopoly for certain satellite subscribers, on the whole, this legislation does more to protect consumers than to harm them. We feel as though it’s particularly important that consumers will no longer purchase television service, thinking it is one price, only to later learn about costly fees hidden in fine print.

“Moving forward, we hope that DirecTV opts to provide local broadcast content in the areas where it currently does not so that, pursuant to the new law, no consumer will lose access to broadcast content. We also hope that now that the law previously known as STELAR has been permanently reauthorized, Congress will take up broader video marketplace reforms, so that content creators can be fairly compensated, and consumers can have the optimal amount of choice in their video content.”