McCaskill Launches Cable Bill Beef Site

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), chair of the Consumer Protection Subcommittee, is asking consumers with beefs about their pay TV bills to weigh in via a new "submit the scam" web tool on her senate web site, saying that is part of an effort to "lay the groundwork" for legislation.

McCaskill announced the effort under the headline "Frustrated with your Cable or Satellite Bill? McCaskill Wants to Hear from You," and with the assertion that cable companies are "the worst" when it comes to customer satisfaction, citing this story about the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

She said the new legislation would bring "transparency and fairness to cable, satellite, and other pay-TV billing practices,” adding that consumer complaints about pay TV bills were "among the fastest-growing consumer complaints to the Federal Trade Commission."

Following an April hearing on satellite legislation, she took off on MVPD bills, saying she had discovered a high speed charge she was still paying even after it had become the baseline speed. When she called to ask why she was still paying extra, she was told it was because she hadn't called to change it. She did not identify the provider.

The senator appears to be taking a page from the playbook of, the broadcaster-backed group putting a spotlight on pay TV billing practices — and asking Congress to investigate.

McCaskill even linked in the press release announcing her “Submit to Scam" effort to a TVfreedom press release applauding her for raising the billing issue at the STELA hearing.

"ACA believes that a review of the pricing practices of multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) should look simultaneously at the wholesale pricing and bundling practices of large broadcasters and programmers, which heavily influence the prices and packages offered to consumers.” said American Cable Association President Matt Polka.

John Eggerton

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.