Consumer Reports: Cable companies collecting big fees for boxes

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Consumer Reports is pushing for change and a choice for cable customers. (WLS)

Have you looked at your cable bill lately? Turns out you're not just paying for TV channels. Your cable company is also charging you every month for rent on your cable box. Consumer Reports is pushing for change and a choice for cable customers.

On top of paying a hefty charge for her cable service, Andrea Weinreb has to fork over more than $50 a month in cable box rental fees. She has six, and it adds up to more than $600 a year.

"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," said Weinreb.

She's not alone. Nearly all of the 53 million cable customers in the U.S. face a monthly charge to rent their cable boxes.

Those bills mount up and cost the average household $231 a year. They also generate nearly $20 billion a year in revenue for the cable industry.

Consumer Reports has 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," said Consumer Reports Electronics Editor Jim Willcox.

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

"Ideally, cable and satellite companies would support set-top boxes from other companies, prices would come down, and programming choices would open up," Willcox said.

The cable industry is opposed to the idea and is questioning 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."

But Consumer Reports believes, with the ever-increasing price of cable and all of the recent advances in technology, consumers deserve better choices.

The Federal Communications Commission is now collecting public comments on new rules for cable boxes. The final rules will need to be approved by the FCC. Consumer Reports says you can submit your opinion at
Related Topics:
entertainmentcable televisionconsumer reports

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