What's the deal: Share your opinion on cable equipment fees

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Millions of cable customers have no choice. You want cable? You have to pay the rental fee for equipment. (WPVI)

Millions of cable customers have no choice. You want cable? You have to pay the rental fee for equipment.

Now Consumer Reports is saying enough with what it calls this cable boxopoly.

Andrea Weinreb pays more than $50 a month to rent six cable boxes. That adds up to more than $600 a year.

"So they basically say you can have cable TV, but by the way, in order to get it into your house, you have to pay for the box," said Weinreb.

Nearly all of the 53 million cable customers in the U.S. face a monthly charge to rent their cable boxes. Those rental fees generate nearly $20 billion a year in revenue for the cable industry. Now Consumer Reports has a campaign to push Congress to give customers a choice.

"Instead of being stuck paying rental fees every month, you should be able to go out and choose the best solution for getting the programming you pay for," said Jim Willcox, Consumer Reports Electronics Editor.

The Federal Communications Commission is working on a proposal that addresses the issue for consumers.

"Ideally, cable and satellite companies would support set-top boxes from other companies, prices would come down and programming choices would open up," said Willcox.

The cable industry is opposed to the idea and is questioning the need for it, saying the cable market is already making some changes.

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association says: "The FCC has no policy need nor does it have the legal authority to impose such invasive new regulations on the thriving video marketplace."

But Consumer Reports believes, with the ever-increasing price of cable and all of the recent advances in technology, consumers deserve better choices.

The Federal Communications Commission is now collecting public comments on new rules for cable boxes. The final rules will need to be approved by the FCC.

Consumer Reports says you can submit your opinion at unlockthebox.com.
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