The UK’s largest cable provider is asking customers to pay an extra £200 a month if they are willing to pay for the right to use its streaming service in exchange for the cable company giving them access to their local TV and radio channels.
The move is part of an ambitious bid to woo more customers and cut costs as the cable companies struggle to cope with an expected £6.3 billion increase in customers.
The proposed new fee is due to be announced on Friday, the Cable and Wireless Association said in a statement.
“The price will be based on the amount of time the subscriber has been using the service, the number of channels they have subscribed to and the number and quality of the local content they have access to,” it said.
The Cable and Networks Union said the proposal was a “sham” and was “simply a PR exercise”.
“The Cable & Wireless Association is currently engaged in a PR campaign designed to increase its own profits and the fortunes of other cable operators, such as BT and S4,” it added.
“Its intention is to use the publicity generated by this PR exercise to further the industry’s agenda of raising prices and pushing more customers towards expensive services.”
The industry is bracing for the new price hike to hit the average monthly cost of an average UK home, and even further, for the industry to struggle as the cost of digital subscriptions increases.
The UK is the only country in Europe without a statutory price for digital services, which are used to watch TV programmes and films on demand.
The industry’s chief executive, Jim Fitzpatrick, said it was “time to move beyond the PR stunts and focus on delivering a more robust broadband network for our customers”.
The cost of broadband is expected to increase from an average of £1,100 in 2020 to an average £2,300 by 2022, according to a report by the Broadband Council.
A spokesperson for BT told the BBC: “We will be delivering the fastest broadband speeds to our customers in the UK, with the highest levels of service and speeds in Europe.”
We will continue to work closely with the industry and will continue with the most advanced broadband infrastructure in the world.
“S4 said it had been “committed to delivering the highest quality broadband and our customers have been fantastic partners.””
We are working closely with regulators and regulators are working with us to deliver the best possible outcomes for our business, our customers and the environment,” it continued.