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November 21, 2023

Retransmission Fees

Estherville Communications faces rising retransmission fees. These fees only affect TV customers (including those in TV bundles). If you are not a TV customer, these fees and changes will not affect you.

Explaining Retransmission Fees:

Estherville Communications has contracts with local TV stations that allow us to carry ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox stations on our cable network. Price agreements are renegotiated every three years and detail how much these broadcasters charge us to carry their channel. These charges are called “retransmission fees.” These rates change on an annual basis, which will once again happen on January 1, 2024. Retransmission fees come from a decades-old federal law that allows broadcast stations to charge cable and satellite companies (such as Estherville Communications) to carry their programming on our channel lineup.

This problem is not limited to Estherville Communications – other cable and satellite providers that have local channels on their lineups are facing the exact same issue.

An important note: Because of the extreme fluctuation in retransmission fees, particularly in the last several years, retransmission fees are calculated similarly to taxes in that they are charged outside of the bundle/TV package prices. Estherville Communications does not keep or profit from these fees; they are sent directly back to the broadcasters.

It's Not Fair:

We agree – it’s not fair! You, the customer, are being forced to shoulder the cost of local TV and provide a source of income to the broadcast stations. At Estherville Communications, we strive to keep prices as low as possible, but we can’t control how much we are forced to pay to carry local TV stations.

If retransmission fees are not paid, Estherville Communications would no longer be able to carry any local channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox). If we stop paying, broadcasters take their channels away.


What are retransmission fees?

The fees that local broadcast stations charge cable and satellite customers to show their programming. If you watch local broadcast channels with an antenna, the programming is free. Broadcasters charge cable and satellite providers (like Estherville Communications) and their customers (you) to “retransmit” those same channels, meaning you are essentially paying for “free” TV.

How much is the retransmission fee increase?

It appears that most TV bills could increase by several dollars, but this varies depending on which local channels are on your channel lineup.

How does this affect my monthly bill?

Because these fees are not included in bundle or service prices, you will see the adjusted retransmission fee on your January 2024 bill.

Is there any way to avoid paying these fees?

Estherville Communications could completely drop all local channels to avoid paying these fees. However, based on feedback we have received, local channels are very important to the majority of our customers, and we hesitate to make such a drastic change. Switching providers is also not an option for customers, as all cable and satellite companies are forced to pay retransmission fees. Other providers may hide these in their service prices, or charge on top as Estherville Communications does, but either way, you pay the fees.

What is Estherville Communications doing about retransmission fees?

We are doing our best to negotiate for our customers. We are a part of several organizations of local and national TV providers who are trying to reverse the laws that require retransmission fees.