A new proposal could ban landlords from charging for cable and internet in bulk

President Biden

The Federal Communications Commission is considering a proposal to bar landlords from charging tenants in bulk for cable, internet, and satellite services, offering them more choice in the kinds of services they need.

The agency is circulating a proposed rule to ban the practice of “bulk billing,” the White House announced in a press release ahead of President Joe Biden’s meeting with his Competition Council on Tuesday. It’s part of a broader effort to promote policies that will lower costs for Americans, as Biden is trying to appeal to voters focused on the economy as he seeks reelection later this year. That theme of lowering costs will resurface in Biden’s State of the Union address on Thursday, National Economic Advisor Lael Brainard told reporters on a call Monday.

Bulk billing restricts consumers’ choices by limiting the prices and levels of cable and internet service available to them, the White House said in the press release. The new proposal will also target other “exclusive arrangements” between landlords and service providers like exclusive wiring and marketing arrangements or revenue sharing agreements, the White House said.

The Biden administration is also promoting the progress of its earlier actions to crack down on junk fees, the additional unexpected charges tacked on by companies including banks, car rental agencies, and event ticket sellers. Several different agencies have been working on proposals to crack down on junk fees, including the Federal Trade Commission, which proposed a rule last fall to require businesses to present the full price of services upfront, rather than concealing added fees. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also announced on Tuesday that it finalized a rule to lower credit card late fees from an average of $31 to $8. The Council of Economic Advisers, an internal White House agency, found that these actions will collectively reduce junk fees by more than $20 billion a year going forward — down from what it estimates as $90 billion a year.