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Frequently Asked Questions about Programmer Fees

Q: What are Programming/Programmer fees?

A: A significant portion of your Local TV bill is passed on to Cable Network and Broadcast station owners (Networks, or Programmers). Each TV provider such as Great Plains Communications, are under contract with programmers and are charged a fee per channel, per month, per customer for the right to provide that station or Network to customers.

These Network fees have increased dramatically at 3½ times the rate of inflation over the last 16 years.
The fees for stations on the cable lineup increase every year.

These programmer fees apply to the stations on your cable lineup and are increased on an annual basis.

Q: I don’t even watch a lot of the channels on my television, why do I still have to be responsible for all of these fees on my bill when there are other subscribers who watch more channels than I do?

A: All Satellite and Cable providers (TV providers) pay each Network owner (Programmer) a fee for every household that receives a particular Network – regardless of whether anyone in the household actually watches it. This is the industry standard as it is today.

Many customers would prefer to pay for only the most popular Networks and a select group of quality, special-interest ones that appeal to them. This is something that providers would like to offer, but most Networks will not allow it. Unfortunately, the programmers often have the upper hand in how their networks are packaged.

Q: What is Great Plains Communications doing to keep these costs under control?

A: When contracts come to an end, we diligently negotiate with content providers to secure the best terms for our customers.

By holding firm in our negotiations, we’ve held these programming price increases well below the high annual increases that many Networks demand. Some Networks are asking for increases of 50%, 100% or even higher. We actively negotiate every contract in the best interest of our viewers.

Q: Maybe I should just switch to satellite?

A: The fact is that ALL Satellite, Cable and telephone TV providers face this same problem. So even if you switch providers now, chances are that you will experience the same issues. The Networks don’t care about the cost, time and inconvenience that switching means for you; they get paid either way.

Please note some of the latest news regarding Programmer Fees, and subsequent rate increases happening in the Cable Television industry:


Omaha World Herald: "KETV no longer on DirecTV; unable to reach agreement" 

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 ajc "AT&T U-Verse, DirecTV may drop WSB-TV January 1, 2017"

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Los Angeles Times: "The rise of sports TV costs and why your cable bill keeps going up" 

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For even more information on Programmer Fees and the Cable Television industry, you can visit