Verizon to Tack On RSN Fee to FiOS TV

Telco Will Apply $2.42 Monthly Surcharge Starting in February in Certain Markets 1/24/2013 7:01 PM Eastern

With the cost of sports programming continuing to climb, Verizon Communications starting next month will begin charging new FiOS TV customers and those on month-to-month plans a $2.42 monthly fee for regional sports networks.

"Verizon has chosen a fee of $2.42 per month (as opposed to increased TV package charges) to address the skyrocketing incremental sports content costs associated with this popular programming," spokeswoman Heather Wilner said in an email.

The fee will first take effect for FiOS TV customers in California, Texas and Florida in February, and in New York City and all remaining states in March except Maryland and Virginia, where the fee will go into effect in April.

The move comes after DirecTV instituted a $3 monthly RSN surcharge in August 2012 for new customers in markets with multiple RSNs, such as Los Angeles and New York. At an investment conference this month, DirecTV CEO Mike White said the operator will expand the surcharge in 2013 to markets with high-priced sports networks.

This week, Verizon announced the FiOS TV Select HD package, which excludes RSNs and sports networks like ESPN as well as some other popular networks such as Fox News Channel and TNT, priced $15 lower per month than its previous entry-level HD tier. To avoid the new RSN surcharge, customers can downgrade to Select HD prior to the fee taking effect on their bills, Wilner said. "We believe in giving our customers choice," she said.

Verizon is informing customers about the new RSN fee through bill messages that started in December and will continue through the end of January.

Initially Verizon’s RSN fee will be applied to all new and month-to-month customers, while subscribers in a contract will not be subject to the charge until they make a change to their existing package or their contract rolls off.

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