5 On Your Side

Consumer Reports pushes for end to cable TV 'boxopoly'

Posted September 22

How frustrated are you with your cable bill?

The total amounts of many cable bills can make people cringe, but there is a new push to tackle one of the fees most cable customers wish they could see go away – the rental fee for cable boxes.

Andrea Weinreb spends more than $50 a month, or $600 a year, to rent six cable boxes.

"So, they basically say you can have cable TV, but by the way, in order to get it into your house, you have to pay for the box," Weinreb said.

Of the 53 million cable customers in the United States, nearly all rent their cable boxes. On average, those boxes cost customers about $231 a year.

Consumer Reports has started a campaign to push Congress to end what it calls the "cable-boxopoly."

"Instead of being stuck paying rental fees every month, you should be able to go out and choose the best solution for getting the programming you pay for," Consumer Reports' Jim Wilcox said.

The Federal Communications Commission is working on a proposal that addresses the lack of choice for consumers.

Consumer Reports says that ideally, cable and satellite companies would support set-top boxes from other companies so prices would come down. Consumer Reports says that decision would open up programming choices.

The cable industry opposes the idea and questions the need for it, saying the cable market is already making some changes.

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association says the FCC "has no policy need nor does it have the legal authority to impose such invasive new regulations on the thriving video marketplace."

Consumer Reports says the ever-increasing price of cable and all of the recent advances in technology mean consumers deserve better choices.

The FCC wants to hear from consumers about new rules for cable boxes. Consumers can submit their thoughts online.

The final rules will need to be approved by the FCC.

1 Comment

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  • Aiden Audric Sep 23, 3:04 p.m.
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    I think consumers are already on top of this. It's called Roku, Apple TV, FireTV, etc..

    But for those who like to stick to a land line...err, I mean, a cable box, this is good news. One reason I dropped my cable box (and TV package) was that I can get everything I want from streaming without having to pay for them to let me get the service I already paid for.

    It's like selling you a fountain drink, but you have to pay extra for the cup and you can't bring your own. And you have to watch ESPN while you drink it.