Credit: Steven Depolo via Flickr.
Photo Credit: Steven Depolo via Flickr.

At the beginning of this year, Comcast began charging customers a controversial new fee of $1.50 to cover the costs of certain programming.

Called the “Broadcast TV Fee,” the new line item has just started appearing on the bills of Washington state residents to the ire of local customers.

Besides price hikes typically upsetting customers, this one in particular is maddening because of the way it’s being conducted. In essence, by tacking on the additional cost below the bill’s main charges, the company is able to jack up prices without having to advertise that anything has changed. It’s a topic that the Consumerist has taken issue with on multiple occasions. Meanwhile, Comcast would like you to believe that by itemizing this fee, it is being more transparent as to the factors that are driving costs.

GeekWire columnist Frank Catalano happened to notice that the fee started to appear this month, and dug back into previous bills to see that the fine print warned him that the new fee was coming on July 1.

In a statement, Comcast spokesman Steve Kipp said the charge is due to broadcast “retransmission costs,” which have more than doubled in recent years.

“Beginning in 2014, we will itemize a portion of broadcast retransmission costs as a separate line item to be more transparent with our customers about the factors that drive price changes,” he said. “In 2014, we will not increase the price of Limited Basic or Digital Preferred video service, and adjustments to other video service prices will be lower than they would have been without the Broadcast TV Fee.”

Retransmission fees have to do with how much Comcast and other cable operators get charged to carry the signals of broadcast stations, which they are required to do.

To Comcast’s credit, it is the first year it is implementing the broadcast TV fee here, even though it has been doing so in other areas for more than a year. Additionally, other cable operators have been collecting a similar fee, ranging between $1.99 and $2.15 a month, for years.

The fee will apply to all Comcast video customers who are not currently on a promotion.

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  • FrankCatalano

    Interesting how Comcast claims that it is doing this instead of raising prices for “video service.” My Comcast package (non-promotional), Blast Plus, is a bundle of Blast Internet Service and Digital Economy cable video service. That package also went up in price, from $79.95 to $84.95, at the same time the $1.50 “Broadcast TV Fee” was added. So if Comcast is to be believed, none of that $5.00 increase on the Blast Plus package was for video service, it was just for Internet service.

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  • JCJ Bike

    I instinctively thought just now, “could comcast BE anymore slimy…” only to smile and think, “yes they could.”

  • Tom Scearce

    So why can Comcast charge for rebroadcasting public airwaves but Aereo can’t??

    • Lysander Spooner

      Because Comcast has the broadcasters’ consent but Aereo did not. Google “retransmission consent”.

  • Phil

    Cut the cable. Buy a rooftop antenna and get free HD for life.

    • Stephen Medawar

      Uncompressed HD at that.

    • Dave

      Why bother with rooftop? Good ole’ $15 rabbit ears work great for me.

    • Ryan Laursen

      I would, but I can’t receive broadcast content (blocked by mountains).

    • Donna Harper

      they are trying to change that too when you have to pay for that service if Congress gets its way and tell congress you want free tv. No joke here.

  • FedUpWIthInsanity

    The WRONG building was hit 9/11!! These SOB’s need to be brought down–but thanks to our government, Comcast is stronger than ever. Well, I for one have HAD it–Direct TV, here I come!

  • Frank

    $1.50 is the introductory tax. In my area, the Comcast fine print says “broadcast fee as much as $3.50.” Then there’s another tax, the “regional sports fee of up to $1.00.”


    My “Broadcast TV Fee” went up from $1.50 to $3.25 in the month of January 2015. Essentially a 216% increase, true to Comcast fashion to r*pe the customer, line by line.

    • Rick

      My broadcast fee did the same in January 2015 (1.50 to 3.25) along with a $2.00 hike in my modem rental fee $8.00 to $10.00 a month , i will be hooking up my own modem ASAP ..they just keep raising and ripping us off – what in the heck can we do – i just don’t understand a billion dollar company taking advantage of the people like this

      • PiCASSiMO

        Wow… I remember when it was something like $4 per month for the modem. So I ended up buying my own Motorola DOCSIS 3.0 modem and now for the past 6 years it’s paid itself off a while ago. With $10 a month, you can read the benefits within 6-7 months.

  • JCM

    So sick of Comcast nickel and us! We need to BOYCOTT!

    • disqus_JjYnU5MRNk

      In February, I dropped my comcast phone and all premium channels. I was given a price for Digital Starter and internet for $69.04 and told I’d only have to pay taxes on top of that. The taxes are $2.54. But now my bill has gone up $4 because of broadcast fee and sports fee. These don’t appear to be taxes at all. I always thought taxes go to some government entity. If comcast needs this $4, I expect it should have been included in the $69.04 they quoted me. And I have that in writing.

  • Rebecca Chan

    Called Comcast because we were charged and had a promotional deal. They went back to beginning 2015 and removed the charge. We’ll see if it is removed going forward. The rep said it was a tax which I said it is not because it would be listed under taxes section of the bill. The fee was easily adjusted off my account after I said it’s not a tax.

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