DirecTV Concerned About FCC’s All-In Pricing Plan

Feb 01, 2024

Washington, D.C., Feb. 1, 2024 – No. 1 satellite TV provider DirecTV is raising compliance concerns with new billing protocols proposed last year by the leader of the Federal Communications Commission.

FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel wants cable and satellite TV providers to adhere to an “all-in” billing format, which means one price for video programming to be displayed as a prominent single line item on bills and in promotional materials.

DirecTV spent time with FCC officials recently to underscore the company’s difficulties in meeting the FCC’s requirements while complying with similar but not identical rules across multiple jurisdictions.

The company said in a Jan. 31 filing with the FCC that it had “concerns about complying with multiple, conflicting regulatory regimes in this area – including the FCC, the [Federal Trade Commission], and various states including California, and potentially New York, New Jersey, Colorado, and Virginia.”

DirecTV, with 11.85 million subscribers, is the third-largest multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) in the U.S. behind Comcast Corp. and Charter Communications.

The FCC’s proposal calls for rolling in all programing fees (including broadcast TV fees and regional sports network fees) in the promoted single price, but it would exclude taxes and equipment costs, according to an analysis by the Wiley Rein law firm.

Rosenworcel said the plan would “reduce cost confusion and make it easier for consumers to compare services.” She also claimed “all-in” pricing would “increase competition among cable and broadcast satellite providers through improved price transparency.”

But DirecTV suggested the FCC's approach was borderline chaotic.

DirecTV’s filing said the company could face the “the possibility that one set of rules might require what another set of rules prohibits,” adding that various jurisdictions “might require different ‘all-in’ or ‘total’ prices, calculated differently, but each required to be shown prominently.”

Display requirements could present additional problems, DirecTV said, referring to rules related to ‘small-format’ advertising, such as banner ads and the like.”

NCTA - The Internet & Television Association – which represents large cable operators like Comcast, Charter and Cox – has informed the FCC that consumers already receive “clear and transparent pricing disclosures …at the point of sale and in bills” as required by the Television Viewer Protection Act of 2019 (TVPA).

In addition, NCTA has claimed the FCC does not have legal authority to regulate a cable operator’s communications with the general public or “potential subscribers.” The FCC had authority to adopt customer service standards that apply to existing customers, the trade group said.