Comcast to hike cost of broadcast TV fee, increase cable and internet price

The Comcast logo is seen on a retail store in Sacramento, California on July 3, 2015. (Photo: Matthew Keys / The Desk)

Comcast is raising prices yet again.

Starting in December, Comcast will begin charging an extra $5 for its basic package of local, government and public access channels. That package, known as Basic TV or Digital Economy, will increase from $30 a month to $35 a month.

Comcast is also raising a little-known hidden fee, known as the Broadcast TV Fee, from $10 a month to $15 a month. That fee supplements what it costs Comcasts to make local broadcast stations — including affiliates of ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, Univision and Telemundo — available to its subscribers. Comcast does not discount the Broadcast TV Fee in markets where it owns the NBC or Telemundo stations.

Though many households can get almost all of their local channels for free with an antenna, Comcast provides no way for its television customers to opt-out of local television programming. The fee is applied whether or not customers watch local channels via Comcast and isn’t discounted when the cable service stops carrying a local channel for any number of reasons.

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Comcast blamed the price hikes on higher programming fees, which the company must pay to legally distribute channels to customers. Comcast did not name those programmers, but it has deals with many companies that operate several of the top networks in the industry, including Disney, AT&T’s WarnerMedia, AMC Networks, Viacom’s MTV Networks, A+E Networks and local broadcasters including Nexstar Media Group, Fox Broadcasting Group, Weigel Broadcasting and Hearst Television.

Interestingly, Comcast is also increasing two other fees that have nothing to do with television programming: The company is raising the price of its broadband internet packages by $3 a month — except it’s most expensive 2 Gigabit Fiber package, which currently costs $299.99 a month — as well as the company’s self-imposed bounced check fee — known as a “returned payment fee” — which will increase from $10 to $30 per instance (the fee was already $30 in some areas.

The price hikes will roll out to customers on December 18.

Comcast, based in Philadelphia, lost 238,000 pay TV subscribers in the third quarter of 2019, leaving it with 21.4 million subscribers. Only AT&T, which owns DirecTV and operates two streaming TV services, lost more subscribers in the same period.

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