Vets Could Get Break on Cable, Internet Termination Fees

Before heading out for their August recess, the House of Representatives last week passed a bill that would allow members of the armed services to terminate their cable, satellite or internet access service when they are deployed or are transferred without having to pay an early-termination fee.

Some states already have their own laws, and there are currently laws that let them get out of rental agreements, auto leases and cell phone contracts.

The bill (H.R. 2409) updates the cell phone contract portion of the Service members Civil Relief Act to include pay TV and internet contracts.

Service members don't have to pay an early termination fee of they are deployed or otherwise have to relocate for at least 90 day. They must return any provider-owned equipment within 10 days after their service, as in cable or 'net service, is disconnected.

The bill was co-sponsored by Reps. Ryan Costello (R-Pa.) and Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.).

“When service members and their families receive military orders to deploy or relocate, they should not have to face fees from internet, cable, or other paid television service providers in their moving process,” said Rep. Costello. "This commonsense legislation would implement a federal solution to ensure military families do not have to pay these fees."

Citing the need to pass spending bills, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) last month canceled the Senate's August recess, so the bill could get a Senate vote.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. It will have to move quickly to get a vote before the second week of august since Senators are expected to get a break the first week of August for a home state work period.

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.