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Broadcast TV Surcharge

Federal law allows local U.S. broadcast television stations (i.e., affiliates of networks such as CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, etc.) to negotiate with cable and satellite providers in order to obtain "consent" to carry their broadcast signals (Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992).

As a direct result of local broadcast, or "network-affiliated," TV stations increasing the rates to LocalTel Communications to distribute their signals to our customers, we will be passing those charges on as a Broadcast TV Surcharge, in the Taxes and Fees section of the billing statement. These local TV signals were previously made available to LocalTel Communications 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.

Questions You May Have

What is the Broadcast TV Surcharge line on my statement?

The Broadcast TV Surcharge is a pass through reflecting charges assessed to LocalTel Communications by the owners of local broadcast, or local "network-affiliated," TV stations. While broadcast stations distribute their signals over the air using free spectrum granted to them by the federal government, they charge LocalTel Communications significant amounts to carry their TV signals. These signals were historically made available to LocalTel Communications at no cost, or low cost. However, the prices now demanded by broadcast stations have necessitated that we pass these costs on to customers.

Why and how is this cost new and different from what I have been paying for in the past?

These signals were historically made available to LocalTel Communications at no cost, or low cost. However, the prices now demanded by broadcast stations have necessitated that we pass these costs on to customers.

How can broadcast TV stations charge for carriage of their signals?

Broadcast TV stations distribute their signals over the air, using free spectrum granted to them by the federal government. In effect, taxpayers are subsidizing the distribution of broadcast, or "network-affiliated," TV signals. These same broadcast TV stations are then allowed by the government to charge for their signals — and if we don’t agree to pay, broadcasters can force us to drop their channels, and as a result deny our customers access to these channels. Actions are being taken by the industry to change the law that created this situation and if those actions are successful, we will remove these broadcast TV charges. It is always our goal to make our services as affordable as possible for our customers.

Why do you treat local broadcast TV stations differently than you do cable networks like ESPN, MTV or HBO?

Federal law treats them differently. Unlike cable TV networks, local broadcast TV stations distribute their signals over the air, using free spectrum granted to them by the federal government. In effect, taxpayers are subsidizing the distribution of broadcast TV signals. These same broadcast TV stations are then allowed by the government to charge for their signals — and if we don’t agree to pay, broadcasters can force us to drop their channels, and as a result deny our customers access to these channels.

Are all local broadcast or network-affiliated TV stations charging LocalTel Communications?

Broadcast stations have the option of requiring LocalTel Communications to carry their stations for no monthly fee, or opting to negotiate a charge to LocalTel Communications for the right to carry their station. It sounds confusing, but the laws leave little option for companies like LocalTel Communications. While there may still be some stations that do not demand payment from LocalTel Communications for carriage, other local TV stations require significant payment from LocalTel Communications, and it is their charges that are reflected in the Broadcast TV Surcharge. The decision of whether or not to charge for their stations is up to the broadcast stations, we can negotiate with these companies to try to get the lowest possible fee, but in the end we have to abide by their decision if we are to make their channels available to our customers.