Taxes, Surcharges, and Fees
At enTouch, we are committed to doing everything we can to provide you with the best, most advanced services backed with award-winning customer care. Each of us works hard to ensure that you and the communities we serve have access to the fastest and most reliable Internet, TV, phone and security services. Each and every day, we endeavor to deliver high-quality services at a great value and have always aimed to put our customers first. We are transparent with our customers and we want you to know what comprises the taxes, surcharges, and fees you see on your bill.
Programming fees paid to entertainment networks and regional sports networks, in addition to retransmission consent fees demanded by local broadcasters, comprise one of the largest costs in our business. These fees have historically increased over time and continue to grow at an alarming rate.
To help offset the delivery of programming content, enTouch has instituted specific fees and/or surcharges; unless otherwise notated, the surcharges and/or fees listed are neither government mandated nor a tax, surcharge, or fee imposed by the government. They are either a surcharge and/or fee enTouch assesses and retains. For more information, please see the FAQs below.
We’ll continue working hard to bring you the most advanced services with outstanding customer support, while minimizing operating and programming costs. Led by a customer-focused vision, we’re dedicated to fulfilling your communication, entertainment and information needs.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why are rates going up?
We have worked very hard to hold down rate increases. We periodically need to adjust rates due to increases we incur in programming and business costs. TV networks continue to demand major increases in the costs they charge us to carry their networks. We will continue to negotiate to keep costs as low as possible. You are our priority.
Can you tell me what one TV station/network costs?
Our contracts prohibit us from providing information by individual TV station and networks.
Your services are too expensive...I am going to switch to a different provider.
These programming cost increases are not unique to enTouch. Our competitors are being affected as well. enTouch provides the best value for our customer’s entertainment dollars. Our high-speed Internet products are industry leading including the fastest speeds and best prices.
I refuse to pay more money for service that does not work.
If you are experiencing trouble with your service please contact us at 281-225-1000.
I am in a promotional package, are my rates changing, too?
If you are signed up for one of our promotional packages you’ll continue to experience great savings off our regular retail rates for the services you chose, until the end of your promotional period. If you have other services and equipment outside of the service package you may see an increase in those equipment rates and you will see an increase in the associated surcharges, taxes and fees as applicable.
What are the Taxes, Surcharges, and Fees?
Below please find a summary of the various taxes, surcharges, and fees. Unless otherwise notated, the listed taxes, surcharges, and/or fees are neither government mandated nor a tax, surcharge, or fee imposed on you by the government. They are either a surcharge and/or fee enTouch assesses and retains.
• Broadcast TV Surcharge is applied to all digital TV packages to help offset the costs of programming content and delivery of the local and regional broadcast television signals to our customers.
• Sports Surcharge is applied to those video customers who have the Standard package or above to help offset the delivery and cost of programming associated with professional, collegiate and amateur games and other sports content.
• Entertainment Networks Surcharge is applied to all video customers with the Standard Package and above. This helps offset the costs associated with the programming and delivery of entertainment networks such as Discovery/Scripps, Comcast/NBC Universal, Turner, ABC/Disney/ESPN/Fox and others.
• Network Access and Maintenance Fee helps defray costs associated with building and maintaining enTouch’s fiber rich broadband network, as well as the costs of expanding network capacity to support the continued increase in customers’ average broadband consumption.
• Periodically, franchise, utility, PEG fees and other government mandated fees and taxes are also adjusted in keeping with regulatory requirements. These fees and taxes are government mandated and we are required to comply.
• For a complete listing of Taxes, Surcharges, and Fees in your area, please refer to your monthly bill.
Do I have to pay the Sports or Entertainment Networks Surcharge if I have the Standard package only?
Yes. If you subscribe to Standard package only and no other video packages or tiers, the Sports or Entertainment Network Surcharge will be assessed to your monthly bill as there are networks available on this tier of service that charge us to carry their services.
Are the surcharges and fees a government mandated tax or fee?
The surcharges and fees (Broadcast TV Surcharge, Sports Surcharge, Entertainment Networks Surcharge, Network Access & Maintenance Fee) are not imposed by the government and are subject to change. They are either a surcharge or fee that enTouch assesses and retains. These surcharges and fees are not franchise fees, which are imposed by local franchising authorities (municipalities) as compensation for enTouch’s use of the public right-of-ways or easements. These surcharges and fees are also not taxes, which enTouch collects on behalf of local, state, and federal governments.
Is this cost different from what I have been paying for in the past?
The monthly rate for cable TV is based on fees paid for TV programming and the cost of operating and maintaining the cable TV system so that our signals can reach subscribers’ homes with quality and reliability. We are continually improving and upgrading our network to meet the growing needs of our customers. We have invested millions in our network and services in 2020 and will continue to invest in 2021.
While we pledge to hold prices as low as possible, annual adjustments are necessary because of the rising cost of TV programming – specific to broadcast, sports and entertainment networks.
In recent years, broadcasters and network owners have become very aggressive, demanding increasingly larger payments for carriage of their “must see” network shows and their family of networks when historically most channels were available at much lower costs to consumers and the cable TV provider.
Are other cable companies charging these same fees, or just enTouch?
The majority of cable companies are now passing along whole or partial surcharges to their cable customers to cover the retransmission costs from local broadcast TV stations, sports and entertainment networks. And those who are not will probably begin doing so in the future as rates continue to rise. These costs are going up dramatically for all distributors.
What is the Broadcast TV Surcharge?
The Broadcast TV Surcharge is applied to all digital TV packages to offset the costs of programming content and delivery of the local and regional broadcast television signals to our customers.
Why do I have to pay for Broadcast TV if I can get it free with an antenna?
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 cable and satellite companies for their signals — and if we (the cable operator) don’t agree to pay, broadcasters will drop their channels from your lineup, thereby adversely impacting our customers. Historically, these fees were made available to enTouch at low cost or no cost. This is no longer the case — cable TV operators are forced to pay rapidly escalating fees demanded by the broadcast TV network owners.
What is the Sports Surcharge?
The Sports Surcharge is applied to those video customers who have the Standard package or above to help offset the delivery and cost of programming associated with professional, collegiate and amateur games and other sports content.
I don’t watch sports channels. Why must I pay this Sports Surcharge?
Sporting events are not limited to sports networks such as ESPN, MLB Network, NHL Network or other sports-centric channels. The rates we pay for non-sports networks are also affected by sports programming. General entertainment channels such as TBS, TNT and USA, carry live sports in addition to non-sports entertainment programming. In total, more than 30 channels on your lineup carry live sports – and their rates are all affected by the increasing cost of sports programming and the delivery of these channels.
What is the Entertainment Networks Surcharge?
The Entertainment Networks surcharge is applied to all video customers with the Standard package and above. This helps offset the costs associated with the programming and delivery of entertainment networks such as Discovery/Scripps, Comcast/NBC Universal, Turner, ABC/Disney/ESPN/Fox and others.
I don’t watch all of these networks. Why must I pay for all?
Carrying individual channels instead of a network owner’s entire “family of networks” is not an option offered to cable TV providers like enTouch. We are forced to carry ALL networks from a given network owner.
Most carriage agreements require cable TV providers to pay large programming rate hikes or forgo carriage of all networks — with no in between option.
Network owners have also forced cable TV providers to carry channels on specific tiers as part of the agreement, which drives costs higher.
Networks are also forcing higher fees on cable TV providers for TV Everywhere and On Demand carriage as part of carriage agreements.
Cable TV providers are required to pay a fee for every household who receives that channel, regardless of whether anyone in that household even watches the channel.
Why do network owners do this?
To ensure lower viewed networks get distribution and therefore, earn more advertising revenue for network owners.
I don’t need/want all of these networks. What can I do?
What is the history behind Cable TV?
Over the past 65 years, Cable TV has gone through a series of transitions, technologically and legally:
1948: Cable television first became available in the US in 1948, with subscription services to relay over-the-air commercial broadcasting television channels.
1948 – 1972: Cable Television extends the geographic reach of over- the-air television stations and provides for consistently good quality reception not available with a rooftop antenna or rabbit ears.
1972: The FCC implements the “Must Carry Rule”. The Must- Carry rule mandates that cable companies carry the signals of all local broadcasters within a 60-mile area.
1992: The FCC passes the Retransmission Act of 1992, giving broadcast stations a choice of requiring cable companies to carry them under the must-carry rules or negotiating with cable companies for compensation to carry their broadcast signals.
1992 – 2005: Cable TV providers generally resisted broadcaster demands for cash compensation on the grounds that the programming was available “off- air” for free.
2005 – 2010: Broadcasters and networks increase demands for cash compensation for programming carriage and
occasionally remove a channel from cable TV providers when fees are in dispute.
2011 – PRESENT: Broadcasters and networks demand gigantic fee increases from cable TV providers such as enTouch– as much as 300%! TV stations and networks engage in several public disputes resulting in customer blackouts.
What is “Retransmission Consent”?
Retransmission consent refers to a provision of the 1992 United States Cable Television Protection and Competition Act that requires cable operators and other multi-channel video programming distributors to obtain permission from broadcasters before carrying their programming. In exchange, a broadcaster may propose that the cable operator pay cash to carry the station or ask for other forms of consideration. The cable operator may refuse the broadcaster’s proposal and the broadcaster can withhold permission for the cable operator to carry the programming. It boils down to a negotiation to arrive at an equitable agreement for all parties.
Unlike cable TV networks, broadcast TV stations distribute their signals over the air, using free spectrum granted to them by the federal government. In effect, taxpayers subsidize the distribution of broadcast TV signals. These same broadcast TV stations are then allowed by the government to charge cable and satellite distributors for their signals — and if we don’t agree to pay, broadcasters can force us to drop their channels. It’s all part of a process known as “retransmission consent negotiations.”
Without the written consent of the local broadcast station ownership, cable and satellite companies are not allowed by law to carry those signals.
Twenty years later, the competitive environment for cable TV providers has changed dramatically. Companies that own the local broadcast TV stations are increasingly demanding huge demands for cash that drive up a cable, satellite, or telephone company’s costs of doing business, and this pricing ultimately affects customers. Cable TV providers cannot absorb these rapidly escalating fees paid to networks and sports channels, plus retransmission fees from local broadcasters. These fees comprise the largest costs in our business and are growing the fastest.