Below are commonly asked questions regarding cable TV surcharges. Use the quick links below to jump to the desired FAQ.
BROADCAST TV SURCHARGE
- What is the Broadcast TV Surcharge on my statement?
- Why can broadcast TV stations charge for carriage of their signals?
- Do other Cable or Satellite providers have this charge?
- Can I drop these channels and get these channels over the air?
- Are all local broadcast or network-affiliated TV stations charging Sparklight?
- If you are trying to control costs, why does my bill seem to go up every year?
- I also use Sparklight for my business service. Will this charge appear on my Sparklight Business bill?
- I have a charge on my bill called "Sports Surcharge" for $5.95 - what is this?
- What kinds of sporting events are included in the “Sports Surcharge”?
- Can I opt out since I do not watch sports?
- Do other companies charge a Sports Surcharge?
- Can I pick the channels I want to watch since I do not watch sports?
What is the Broadcast TV Surcharge on my statement?
This Broadcast TV Surcharge reflects a portion of the rapidly escalating charges levied by the owners of your local broadcast TV stations, including NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox and others. The retransmission consent fees that local broadcast TV stations charge Sparklight to carry their channels have increased dramatically over the past several years - even though broadcast TV stations distribute their signals over the air, using transmission spectrum granted to them for free by the federal government.
Despite our best efforts to control these dramatically increasing retransmission consent fees, Sparklight, like other cable and satellite companies, can no longer continue to absorb these increased costs. As a result, Sparklight has instituted a Broadcast TV Surcharge that reflects a portion of the fees that we pay broadcasters in your community.
Why can broadcast TV stations charge for carriage of their signals?
Broadcast TV stations distribute their signals over the air, using free transmission 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 cable and satellite companies do not agree to pay, broadcast TV stations can force us to drop their channels, thereby adversely impacting our customers.
Do other Cable or Satellite providers have this charge?
The majority of cable companies and DirecTV charge a Broadcast TV Surcharge to cover the retransmission costs from local broadcast TV stations for the past several years.
Can I drop these channels and get these channels over the air?
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires Sparklight to carry these local broadcast TV channels in our packages; therefore, we are unable to offer packages without these channels.
If you are missing a local ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, or NBC station, you can access that channel with an over-the-air antenna. Turn off the Sparklight cable TV receiver and turn to the desired channel on your television set. If you have a newer digital television set, usually the antenna is built right in. As with the old rabbit ears, the reception depends on where you live and whether there are buildings or other obstacles in the way between you and the station's transmitters. You can often boost that reception with an external digital antenna.
Are all local broadcast or network-affiliated TV stations charging Sparklight?
Most local broadcast TV stations require hefty fees from cable and satellite providers to retransmit their programming. Local broadcast TV station charges are reflected in the Broadcast TV Surcharge to each Sparklight customer.
If you are trying to control costs, why does my bill seem to go up every year?
While we continually work to keep prices as low as possible, the Broadcast TV Surcharge is necessary due to the rapidly escalating charges levied by local broadcast TV stations, including NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox and others. The combined cost of cable networks and broadcast TV stations increase every year. As your TV provider, we absorb a portion of those increases and pass along a portion to our customers.
I also use Sparklight for my business service. Will my personal account charges appear on my Sparklight Business bill?
Personal account charges will not appear on your Sparklight Business bill. Business accounts have separate contracts and are handled separately.
I have a charge on my bill called "Sports Surcharge". What is this for?
Sports programming has become one of the largest programming cost increases for cable and satellite providers, and now represents a substantial portion of Sparklight's programming costs.
As a result, Sparklight has instituted a Sport Surcharge for all residential cable TV customers. Despite our best efforts to control these sports programming fees, Sparklight, like other cable and satellite companies, can no longer continue to absorb these increased costs. This surcharge covers a portion of our costs to carry increasingly expensive sports programming that is carried by networks in every level of our channel lineup, including dedicated sports channels such as ESPN, NBC Sports, and the NFL Network, as well as on general entertainment networks such as TNT, TBS, USA Network, and your Regional Sports Networks.
What kinds of sporting events are included in the “Sports Surcharge”?
Networks are now paying billions of dollars a year for the ability to broadcast college and professional sporting events, including football, baseball, basketball, hockey, car racing, tennis, golf, soccer, the Winter and Summer Olympics, and more. Networks then pass these fees on to cable and satellite providers.
Can I opt out since I do not watch sports?
You cannot opt out of any surcharge on your bill. Sporting events are not limited to dedicated sports networks. Popular general entertainment networks such as TNT, TBS, and USA Network carry sporting events each year, and their rates are all affected by the increasing cost of sports programming. The cost to carry these channels has become increasingly expensive and now represents a substantial portion of our programming costs.
Do other companies charge a Sports Surcharge?
Many other cable and satellite companies, including DirecTV, bill customers a Sports Surcharge in the same manner as Sparklight.
Can I pick the channels I want to watch since I do not watch sports?
Unfortunately, programmers set certain rules or guidelines for how their channels can be provided to customers, including what channels must be bundled together, where the channels are positioned and which cable TV packages can contain their channels. This prevents Sparklight from allowing customers the option of selecting channels a la carte.
What are the franchise fees on my bill?
Sparklight is required to pay franchise fees to provide cable TV services in your area. These charges are detailed as a separate line item on your bill. The fee calculation is regulated by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules and federal law. Standard city, county or state taxes vary by areas. The tax amount may change and is based on your service and equipment. The FCC tax is paid to the Federal Communications Commission.