Washington, D.C. – November 22, 2023
On Tuesday, Jessica Rosenworcel, the Chair of the “Federal Communications Commission (FCC),” introduced a plan with the objective of preventing cable and satellite TV service providers from enforcing early-termination charges on customers wishing to terminate their contracts. The FCC is set to conduct an initial vote on the plan on December 13, with Rosenworcel emphasizing the need for increased consumer protection in response to President Joe Biden’s executive order targeting what the administration terms as “junk fees.”
Rosenworcel’s proposal not only seeks to prohibit early-termination fees but also mandates that TV video service providers refund subscribers who choose to cancel before the conclusion of their billing cycle. This move aligns with the FCC’s broader efforts under Democratic leadership to address consumer concerns and foster fair practices within the telecommunications industry.
Since the Democrats assumed control of the FCC in early October, Rosenworcel has been swift in implementing new regulations. Last month, the FCC voted to advance a proposal reinstating net neutrality rules and expanding regulatory oversight of broadband internet—a move that overturns changes made during the previous administration under President Donald Trump.
In a further stride towards digital equality, the FCC recently adopted final rules preventing digital discrimination in broadband service access, responding to a directive from Congress. These rules empower the FCC to investigate discrimination complaints related to broadband access and impose penalties on companies found in violation. Rosenworcel emphasized the collaborative nature of this approach, stating, “We have created a process that is aimed at finding solutions that work for all parties.”
However, not everyone is in favor of the FCC’s recent initiatives. Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr criticized the proposed plan, asserting that it grants “the federal government a roving mandate to micromanage nearly every aspect of how the Internet functions.”
This latest move follows a series of consumer-centric decisions by the FCC. In November 2022, the FCC mandated that U.S. broadband providers display information akin to nutrition labels on food products, offering consumers transparent details about broadband internet services, including prices, speeds, fees, and data allowances.
Additionally, in June of the same year, the FCC granted initial approval for a proposal requiring cable operators and direct broadcast satellite providers to clearly and prominently specify the “all-in” price for video programming services in promotional materials and on subscribers’ bills.
As the FCC continues to assert itself in shaping the landscape of telecommunications, the upcoming vote on the proposed ban on cable TV early-termination fees represents a pivotal moment in the ongoing efforts to enhance consumer rights and establish a more transparent and equitable industry. The outcome of the December 13 vote will be closely watched for its potential impact on the telecommunications sector and consumer experience.