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Dish to stop charging HD fee for customers

(Image: Dish Network Corporation/Graphic: The Desk)

Dish Network says it will no longer charge customers a fee for access to high definition channels and programming after reaching a settlement with the Colorado attorney general earlier this month.

The settlement came amid a challenge by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser who accused Dish Network of charging its satellite customers the fee in an effort to generate added revenue.

“Charging an outdated fee is a practice we’ve seen providers use to drive up prices unfairly for Colorado consumers,” Weiser said in a statement last week. “We will continue to stand up for consumers and protect them from unfair fees.”

For years, Dish Network charged a $10 a month HD technology access fee in programming packages that were offered to some customers who signed up for service prior to 2015.

As HD channels, programming and technology became more common, Dish Network moved away from the fee when it launched new programming packages after 2015. But existing customers who decided to keep legacy programming packages were still charged the fee, something that caught the attention of the Colorado attorney general’s office.

When it began probing Dish Network, the Colorado attorney general said more than 2,400 customers in Colorado were still paying the HD technology fee. Dish Network stopped charging those customers the fee earlier this year.

The HD technology fee did not apply to customers of other Dish Network products, including its streaming service Sling TV, which offers high-definition feeds of most channels.

“Charging an outdated fee is a practice we’ve seen providers use to drive up prices unfairly for Colorado consumers,” the state attorney general’s office said. “I commend Dish [Network] for taking responsibility following the start of our investigation to voluntarily remove this misleading fee charged to its customers.”

Last year, the Colorado attorney general settled with Dish Network rival DirecTV (then owned by AT&T) over a similar technology fee. That settlement included a monthly credit ranging from $1 to $3, depending on a customer’s programming package.

The state attorney general’s office also reached a settlement with cable video and broadband provider CenturyLink last year that saw refund checks sent to Colorado customers. The refunds were part of a settlement reached after the Colorado attorney general’s office probed CenturyLink’s alleged practice of “deceptively” charging customers “hidden fees” and for “falsely advertis[ing] guaranteed locked prices.”

It was not clear if the settlement reached with Dish Network would see any refunds being provided to current or former customers in Colorado.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).