Since first initiating customer surcharges in January 2015, Comcast has increased fees for broadcast and sports programming by a combined 241% to $14.50 a month in most markets, according to an analysis conducted by TV Answerman blogger Phillip Swan.
Over the fall, the No. 1 U.S. cable company raised its broadcast TV surcharge by $1.50 to $7.75 in most markets. That surcharge started out three years ago at $3.25 a month.
Comcast also upped its regional sports surcharge to by $2 to $6.75 month. This fee was $1 a month when Comcast first initiated it three years ago.
"We continue to make investments in our network and technology to give customers more for their money—like faster internet service and more Wi-Fi hotspots, more video across viewing screens, better technology like X1 and a better customer experience,” Oregon regional spokeswoman Amy Keiter said in September, explaining the surcharge increases.
These surcharge increases come on top of recent and separately announced price increases for most Comcast pay TV and internet service tiers.
Comcast isn’t alone in burdening customers with surcharges, Swan noted. Charter, for example, raised its broadcast fee to $7.50 in July and has steadily upped that charge by 43% since 2015. AT&T, meanwhile, has increased is regional sports surcharge for DirecTV by 60% over the same span.
As the surcharges increase, there is grumbling, at least on the state level, from government officials who say the fees make a mockery of advertised pricing for pay TV packages.
"That's a little bait-and-switchy," said Fred Christ, administrator of the Metropolitan Area Communications Commission, which regulates cable TV service in much of Washington County, to the Oregonian last year.
According to the paper, regulators in Multnomah and Washington counties, along with the cities of Milwaukie and Eugene, have written the Oregon Department of Justice, requesting an investigation of the surcharges.
"We would like to discuss whether you or your staff might see any paths forward under the Oregon Unlawful Trade Practices Act or other regulations," the regulators wrote.
"The cost of retransmission imposed by broadcasters continues to increase significantly as do the costs charged by regional sports programmers, and while these fees are increasing they only defray a portion of what we are being charged to be able to carry these channels,” Comcast responded in a statement.