Update on District of Columbia Cable Service During COVID-19 Emergency

Monday, July 20, 2020

Is the Cable Regulatory Division of OCTFME still open for business? How can I contact your office?
Yes—you can reach us by phone Monday-Friday from 9 am-5:30 pm, but our team is working remotely until further notice. Our office at 1899 9th Street, NE is not currently accepting any walk-in appointments or meetings.

Cable customers can still submit complaints or inquiries entertainment.dc.gov or by phone at (202) 671-0066 (available M-F, 9 am-5:30 pm).

Will my cable services be disconnected during the public health emergency?
During the period of the public health crisis declared by the Mayor, and for 15 calendar days thereafter, a cable operator cannot disconnect, suspend or degrade basic cable service, basic broadband internet service or VOIP service for non-payment of a bill, fees for service or equipment or any other charges or for noncompliance with a deferred payment agreement.

Do I still have to pay my cable bills? What if money is tight right now—is there any help available?
Although cable providers cannot disconnect your basic level service for non-payment during the public health emergency, you’ll still be billed as usual for your monthly services. If you’re able to pay any portion of your bill, we recommend you do so to avoid a potentially large future bill.

For consumers having trouble paying their bill, it’s important to contact your cable provider as soon as possible (see contact information at the bottom of this page).
If you have difficulty paying your bill because of Covid-19 and/or the public health crisis, cable providers must offer a payment plan program for eligible customers (see eligibility criteria below) to pay amounts that come due during the public health crisis and the 60 days following the end of the public health crisis.

Payment Programs under Covid-19 Legislation

According to the District’s Covid-19 emergency legislation, cable providers must provide payment programs to eligible customers.   
In order to be eligible for a payment program, a cable customer must:

  1. Notify your cable provider of an inability to pay all or a portion of the amount due as a result, directly or indirectly, of the public health emergency (documentation may be required); and
  2. Agree in writing to make payments in accordance with the payment plan.    

Cable providers must offer the following terms and disclosures with the respect to Covid-19 payment plans:

  1. Customers must be notified of the availability, terms, and application process for the payment program.
  2. There must be a process for customers to apply for a payment plan online or by telephone.
  3. The payment plan must be for a minimum length of one year unless a customer requests a shorter time period.
  4. The cable provider must waive any fee, interest, or penalty that arises out of an eligible customer entering into a payment plan.
  5. Customers cannot be required to make more than equal monthly installments under the payment plan or lump sum payments, unless requested by the customer.
  6. Amounts subject to payment plans cannot be reported to credit reporting agencies as delinquent.
  7. Cable providers shall provide written confirmation to the customer of the payment plan entered including the payment terms.    
  8. If your application for a payment plan is denied, you may file a written complaint with our office.
  9. Your service cannot be disconnected for non-payment when you have entered into and made payment in accordance with the terms of a payment plan.