Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to prevent consumers from experiencing blackouts, runaway price increases for video content, and unexpected bills by passing the “TV Viewer Protection Act of 2019” (H.R. 5035). The bill reauthorizes provisions of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization (STELAR) Act, and requires satellite and cable providers to disclose the entire cost of their services — including fees, equipment rentals, and taxes to consumers prior to their purchase. Public Knowledge welcomes this bill and applauds Rep. Doyle and the entire House for taking action to protect television viewers.
The following can be attributed to Jenna Leventoff, Senior Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“This legislation ensures that cable and satellite subscribers won’t face constant blackouts or runaway fees when pay-TV providers and broadcasters can’t come to agreements because of unfair negotiating tactics. What’s more, by making the good faith negotiating rule permanent, the bill ensures that these big businesses can never again use consumers as a bargaining chip.
“In addition, we are thrilled that this legislation prevents consumers from being lured into contracts for television services on the basis of misleading advertisements. By requiring television providers to provide the total cost of television service — including equipment rentals, taxes, and fees — before they sign up, and in electronic bills, consumers will no longer struggle to pay unexpected fees.
“However, there is still more to be done. We now urge the Senate to pass this legislation before it expires on December 31. Additionally, we urge both the House and Senate to pass legislation reauthorizing STELAR’s distant signal license so that 870,000 satellite TV subscribers don’t lose broadcast content vital for their communities come January 1, 2020. It’s imperative that Congress act now to guarantee that satellite TV subscribers continue to be able to access the broadcast news and information they need.”
You may view our latest blog post, “Everything You Need to Know About STELAR,” for more information on what’s at stake. You may also view our recent letter urging Congress to provide a permanent solution for satellite TV subscribers.
Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-249-9435.