New York Attorney General calls for refunds to cable and satellite subscribers paying fees for live sports

What began as speculation and reporting, followed by a bold maneuver by one of the nation’s largest TV providers, has now entered the arena of public pressure. Will cable and satellite TV providers attempt to avoid paying affiliate fees to ESPN due to the lack of live sports programming currently available due to the COVID-19 shutdown? And if they successfully do so, should those savings be passed along to subscribers? On behalf of local consumers, New York State Attorney General Letitia James sent a letter to seven major TV distributors (Multichannel Video Programming Distributors or “MVPDs,” to use an industry term) asking them to reduce the fees charged to subscribers for channels like ESPN and regional sports networks. “At a time when so many New Yorkers have lost their jobs and are struggling, it is grossly unfair that cable and satellite television providers would continue to charge fees for services they are not even providing,” said James in a statement released on the Attorney General’s website Tuesday (April 29). “These companies must step up and immediately propose plans to cut charges and provide much needed financial relief. ” In the statement, James said that she sent letters to Altice USA, AT&T Inc. , Charter Communications, Comcast Cable, DISH Network, RCN Corporation, and Verizon Communications, asking for plans on how those providers intend to reduce subscriber fees until live sports programming resumes.

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