FCC upholds ruling against Comcast on service fees


Comcast-logoThe FCC denied an appeal by Comcast, which argued that its practice of charging customers separately for a DTA (digital terminal adapter), or converter box that allows subscribers with older TVs to receive digital channels, which the company said would be provided at no charge, is not subject to rate regulation, because it is a service fee.

After subscribers complained, four Minneapolis-St. Paul suburban cable franchising authorities issued rate orders “requiring Comcast to unbundle the equipment from three different ‘service fees,’ ” attorney Michael Bradley, whose law firm, Bradley & Guzzetta, represented the cable commissions, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

The FCC said that Comcast is “required to establish separate equipment and programming rates when setting initial regulated rates, by first unbundling (or separating) equipment costs from total regulated revenues.”

The commissions are: North Metro Telecommunications, North Suburban Communications, Ramsey/Washington Counties Suburban Cable and South Washington County Telecommunications.

Comcast reportedly still charges users $2 to $6 for users who switch to lower-cost packages while Time Warner Cable charges $4 in certain markets to downgrade TV services, something dubbed an “addressable change of service fee.”

See the Star-Tribune story here