A pair of Democratic legislators are pushing the FCC to vigorously enforce new truth-in-billing rules that Congress mandated in the Television Viewer Protection Act that passed late last year.
The mandate requires cable and satellite providers to disclose all fees before potential subs sign on the dotted line and allow for a 24-hour grace period for cancellations without penalty. The TVPA also requires more transparency in electronic billing and prohibits MVPDs from charging for equipment they don't provide. It is supposed to go into effect June 20, six months after the law's passage as the legislation specified.
But saying its members need to focus their time and energies on fighting the pandemic and shouldering the additional broadband load of a surf-in-place populace, NCTA-The Internet & Television Association,, along with USTelecom and ACA Connects, told the FCC they would like the mandate date extended to Dec. 20. Actually, the FCC asked in a request for comment whether it should extend it to that date. The association's said yes, definitely, then added an exclamation point with a request last week for an emergency extension citing the coronavirus pandemic. The FCC Friday granted the extension, citing the pandemic, a move a source familiar with the legislators signaled they understood, so long as the FCC and MVPDs could implement the new mandate as soon, and as vigorously, as possible.
According to a copy of the letter, on Friday (April 3) Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) wrote the FCC seeking assurances it will "vigorously enforce" the mandate. They did not mention the cable effort, but did frame the letter as though the FCC would be enforcing the rules on time, suggesting that would be "executing the will of the U.S. Congress" to promote a "critical" consumer protections.
"The pro-consumer reforms outlined above are scheduled to go into effect on June 20, 2020. In anticipation of the effective date, we would like to receive your assurance thatthe Commission fully intends to enforce the new law," they said.
Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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