November 27, 2018
Comcast customers can expect an increase in their monthly bills when the new year rolls over, even if they are under contract.
The Philadelphia-based cable giant has disclosed price lists with an increase of about 3.3 percent for 2019, continuing an annual trend of higher bills even as the cord-cutter movement widens.
Most of next year's increases will come through higher "Broadcast TV" and "Regional Sports Network" fees, according to Ars Technica.
In January, the broadcast TV fee — a portion of the retransmission consent fees charged by stations — will rise 10 percent to $8.25 per month. The "Regional Sports Network" fee will increase 7 percent to $8.25.
Comcast will also increase its modem rental fee from $11 to $13 per month at the start of the new year.
"While we try to hold costs down, price changes are necessary for a number of reasons, including the continually increasing costs associated with carrying the programming our customers demand, especially broadcast television and sports programming, which are the largest drivers of price increases," Comcast spokeswoman Jennifer Bilotta said in a statement.
The company settled a class-action lawsuit out of court earlier this year over its disclosure policy for fee increases on its broadcast TV and regional sports services. The practice of quietly adjusting fees, as opposed to changing the promotional rate of a given package, led to a broad call for transparency in the company's annual pricing changes.
More than 20,000 Massachusetts customers claimed Comcast used deceptive practices to lock them into long-term contracts without adequate disclosure of equipment costs and monthly fees. The company agreed to pay $700,000 in refunds and forgive customer debts.
Another class-action suit out of Washington state alleges the company used deceptive practices to enroll several hundred thousand customers in a service protection plan without their consent. The lawsuit, expanded last winter, is seeking $100 million.
Pricing changes for 2019 will be effective beginning Jan. 1.