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Cable service cancellation fees might be on the way out

Cable service cancellation fees might be on the way out

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The FCC’s proposed rule would also force cable providers to give subscribers a rebate for the remainder of their billing period.

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The Federal Communications Commission could soon stop cable companies from fining customers who cancel their subscriptions early. In a release on Wednesday, the FCC voted to move forward with a rule that eliminates “junk fees” from cable and satellite providers.

The rule, which FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel first proposed last month, tackles the fees cable and satellite providers sometimes charge when customers cancel their subscriptions before the end of a contract. In addition to doing away with early termination fees, the proposed rule would also require providers to give subscribers a prorated credit or rebate for the number of days left in their billing cycle upon cancellation. The proposed rule passed with a 3–2 vote.

“Consumers are tired of these junk fees”

Here’s what Rosenworcel had to say:

Consumers are tired of these junk fees. They now have more choices when it comes to video content. But these friction-filled tactics to keep us subscribing to our current providers are aggravating and unfair. So today we kick off a rulemaking to put an end to these practices. We propose restricting early termination fees and requiring providers to grant subscribers credits or rebates for the remaining days in a billing cycle after the cancellation of service. We ask questions about legal authority, the impact of our proposed rules, and any alternatives we should consider.

The new rule comes as part of President Joe Biden’s initiative to reduce or eliminate junk fees across various services, including cable subscriptions, internet bills, concert tickets, and more. Cable and satellite providers often implement early termination fees to prevent customers from canceling their services, but it’s unfair to users who need to cancel subscriptions in order to move or if they just can’t afford to pay.

The FCC’s new rules aren’t going in place just yet — the agency must get public feedback on the change before issuing a final decision.