Broadcast TV Surcharge
At Sparklight, we are committed to providing our customers with quality TV programming at a reasonable price and we work hard to minimize costs on your behalf. However, 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 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.
Q. What is the Broadcast TV Surcharge on my statement?
A. 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 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.
Q. Why can broadcast TV stations charge for carriage of their signals?
A. 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 cable and satellite companies don't agree to pay, broadcast TV stations can force us to drop their channels, thereby adversely impacting our customers.
Q. Do other Cable or Satellite providers have this charge?
A. The majority of cable companies and DirecTV have been charging a Broadcast TV Surcharge to cover the retransmission costs from local broadcast TV stations for the past several years.
Q. Can I drop these channels and get these channels over the air?
A. The FCC requires Sparklight to carry these local broadcast TV channels in our packages; therefore we are unable to sell packages without these channels. If you're missing a local ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, or NBC station, you can access that channel with an over-the-air antenna. All you have to do is turn off your Sparklight receiver and turn to the 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 a fairly inexpensive external digital antenna available from any local electronics store. Today's antennas are also quite small and convenient.
Q. Are all local broadcast or network-affiliated TV stations charging Sparklight?
A. The majority of all local broadcast TV stations require significant payment from any cable or satellite provider to retransmit their programming and it is a portion of their charges that are reflected in the Broadcast TV Surcharge.
Q. If you are trying to control costs, why does my bill seem to go up every year?
A. While we work hard to keep prices as low as possible, the Broadcast TV Surcharge is necessary because of the rapidly escalating charges levied by the owners of your local broadcast TV stations, including NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox and others. In fact, the cost of basic cable networks and broadcast TV stations combined are increasing every year. As your TV provider, we absorb a portion of those increases and pass along a portion to customers.
Q. I also use Sparklight for my business service. Will this charge appear on my Sparklight Business bill?
A. This charge will not appear on your Sparklight Business bill. Business accounts fall under contracts and rates which are handled separately.
Q. I have a charge on my bill called "Sports Surcharge" for $5.95 - what is this?
A. Sports programming has become one of the biggest drivers of 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 of $5.95 for all residential Standard Cable 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.
Q. What kinds of sporting events are you talking about?
A. Networks are now paying billions of dollars 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.
Q. Can I opt out since I don't watch sports?
A. Sporting events are not limited to dedicated sports networks. Popular general entertainment networks such as TNT, TBS, and USA Network carry a large number of 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.
Q. Other companies don't have a Sports Surcharge, so why do you?
A. Actually, many other cable and satellite companies, including DirecTV have been billing customers a Sports Surcharge for the past several years.
Q. Why can't I just pick the channels I want to watch since I don't watch sports?
A. Unfortunately, programmers set certain rules or guidelines for how their channels can be sold to customers, including what channels must be sold together, where the channels are positioned and which cable packages can contain their channels. This prevents us from allowing customers the option of selecting their channels a la carte.