With the money you spend renting your cable box every year, you could buy a whole separate TV. On average, Americans pay $231 a year to use their TV providers' set-top boxes, according to new figures from a Senate study. If you break that down, it adds up to nearly 50 Big Macs from McDonald's, or 65 lattes from Starbucks, or a 32-inch LED TV from Samsung. The finding isn't likely to sit well with consumers who believe they're already being charged too much by their cable or satellite service companies. And for Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), that's the whole point: The two lawmakers are incensed by what they say is a lack of choice in the set-top box market, with 99 percent of pay-TV subscribers renting their boxes from companies like Comcast, Time Warner Cable and DirecTV. "Consumers should not be forced to rent video boxes from their pay-TV provider in perpetuity," said Markey.
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