The FCC issued its Public Notice announcing that Annual Regulatory Fees must be paid by 11:59 PM Eastern Time on September 20, 2023. As we noted two weeks ago, the FCC earlier this month released its Report and Order setting the amount of the annual regulatory fees that broadcasters must pay, but the Commission had not, until yesterday, followed up on that Order by issuing a Public Notice setting the dates for payment. Yesterday’s Public Notice, and a set of other Public Notices and Fact Sheets issued yesterday, establishes the payment deadline and announces other procedures for payment. Unlike in past years when the payment window was a limited period, the Public Notice announced that the FCC’s CORES database, through which the fees must be paid, is now available for this payment.
The FCC issued additional notices detailing various aspects of the fee filing process. One Public Notice sets out the general filing procedures for making the fee payments. That Notice makes clear all fees must be paid through CORES. No checks, money orders, or other forms of payment will be allowed. Payment must be made either by wire transfers, ACH electronic payments or by credit card. Credit card payments are limited to $24,999.99. The Notice tells broadcasters that they will receive an email confirming that they have submitted something through the CORES system – but that email does not confirm that the payment has actually been received by the FCC or debited to a broadcaster’s account. Broadcasters need to confirm with their banks that the FCC has in fact debited their accounts for the fees. Pay early to make sure that you have time to confirm that the FCC has in fact received the fees by the deadline.
For broadcasters, a third document, a Fact Sheet called “What Your Owe – Media Services Licensees for Fiscal Year 2023,” sets out specific information as to what is owed by commercial broadcasters – i.e., the fees set out in the FCC’s Report and Order released earlier this month. That notice says that radio broadcasters can confirm the amount of their fees by accessing CORES at https://apps.fcc.gov/cores/userLogin.do. Another Public Notice points to www.fccfees.com for lookup information on radio and TV stations.
Certain broadcasters are exempt from paying fees. Noncommercial stations that are fully operated and licensed as noncommercial are exempt, as are broadcasters whose total fee obligations are “de minimis,” i.e., they total $1000 or less. The FCC also released a Fact Sheet setting out the details of these exemptions.
Finally, a Fact Sheet setting out the procedures for seeking a waiver or deferral of the fees was also released by the FCC. The FCC can waive or defer fees for licensees who can prove that payment would cause a financial hardship. Set out in the Fact Sheet are detailed requirements for submitting the financial information necessary to prove that hardship. Parties seeking a waiver or deferral must do so by the September 20 deadline. Carefully review these procedures as the failure to follow the obligations set out by the FCC can cause a request to be dismissed.
Being late with regulatory fees can bring substantial penalties. A late payment automatically brings a 25% late fee. Thus, commercial broadcasters should immediately review these documents and prepare their fees so that they can be submitted before the September 20 deadline. Review this flurry of notices and fact sheets, and consult with your attorneys and advisors, to make sure that your payments are made and properly reflected in your bank account by the upcoming deadline.