It had to happen; Charter bills 'broadcast TV surcharge'

Charter Communications (OTC BB: CCMM) has come up with a novel way to both recoup extra money being paid out to broadcasters and let subscribers know that the money is, indeed, being paid out to broadcasters.

Proving, again, that there is no such thing as free over-the-air television, Charter explained on its Web site that a Broadcast TV Surcharge of about $1 a month is appearing on bills as "a direct result of local broadcast, or ‘network-affiliated,' TV stations increasing the rates to Charter to distribute their signals to our customers. These local TV signals were historically made available to Charter at no cost, or low cost. However, in recent years the prices demanded by local broadcast TV stations have necessitated that we pass these costs on to customers."  

Charter also proved that it can have a heart by calling off the hounds chasing a Reno, Nev. woman who lost everything--including her cable equipment--in a January fire. Charter had been pestering her to pay $500 for a replacement with money she said she didn't have, but, a local TV station (no doubt one of those causing the above-mentioned surcharge) pursued the matter with the MSO and came to an amicable agreement.

"A corporate spokeswoman ... listened with a sympathetic ear (and) promised to work on a solution," KOLO wrote on its Web site. "Today we received a statement noting Charter's CEO (Michael Lovett) had recently reminded employees to work to serve customer needs and that the MSO is "removing the charges for the destroyed equipment."

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