Here are some of the regulatory developments of the last week of significance to broadcasters, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • The FCC set the comment dates for its proposal for changing the cost to file various broadcast applications. The new

Here are some of the regulatory and legal actions and developments of the last week of significance to broadcasters, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • The day before 2020 annual regulatory fees were due, the FCC extended the deadline from 11:59

Where do all the Washington DC legal issues facing TV broadcasters stand? While we try on this Blog to write about many of those issues, we can’t always address everything that is happening. Every few months, my partner David O’Connor and I update a list of the legal and regulatory issues facing TV broadcasters.

Here are some of the regulatory and legal actions and developments of the last week of significance to broadcasters, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • Information on the FY 2020 regulatory fee process continues to roll out, in advance of the

The Media Bureau yesterday issued its Fact Sheet for the Annual Regulatory Fees for 2020 – expanding on the information available in the various public notices released last week, about which we wrote here.  This Fact Sheet sets out the general information as to how much is owed by various classes of broadcast stations.  The actual fees owed by each station can be determined by entering the station’s call letter or Facility ID Number in the appropriate box on this FCC webpage.  Contact the FCC if you believe that your fee assessment is incorrect.

In addition to the exemption from fees for any entity whose total regulatory obligation is less than $1000, the Fact Sheet also makes clear that FM translators, TV translators and LPTV stations that were not licensed as of October 1, 2019 need not pay a fee.  If, for instance, you received a construction permit for a new FM translator that was not built and licensed until January 2020, then no fee is due. Caution, however, if that station had previously been licensed at a different location (or for LPTV or TV translators, on a different channel), and your construction permit just authorizes a change in an already licensed facility, fees do need to be paid.  Similarly, if a station was licensed on October 1, 2019 and has since been surrendered or cancelled, a fee is still theoretically due.
Continue Reading Media Bureau Regulatory Fee Instructions Issued – No Fees for Translator CPs

The FCC released a Public Notice late Friday afternoon announcing the annual regulatory fees for 2020 will be due by 11:59 PM Eastern Time on September 25, and setting out the procedures for payment.  Another Public Notice announced that the fee filing system is now open to accept fee payment.  A third Public Notice set out the procedures for asking for a waiver of the fees based on financial hardship.  That notice also sets out how licensees can ask for permission to pay on an installment basis.  A further public notice from the Media Bureau, providing details on the filing process for broadcasters, should be released shortly (Update – 9/9/20 – you can read about the Media Bureau Fact Sheet here).

The procedures Public Notice makes clear that all payments need to be made electronically using the Fee Filer system.  These payments can be made by any of the following methods:

  • Credit Card (i.e., Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express) via Fee Filer
  • Wire Transfer
  • ACH/Debit from a Bank Account via Fee Filer
  • Visa or MasterCard Debit Card via Fee Filer

However, you cannot rack up unlimited points on your credit card, as credit card transactions are limited to $24,999.99 in a single day.  The FCC also made clear that entities that owe total annual regulatory fees of $1000 or less are exempt from paying the fees, as these fees are considered de minimis – essentially the costs of collection outweigh the amount that the FCC would otherwise receive.
Continue Reading 2020 Annual Regulatory Fees Due by September 25 – Fee Filer Now Open and FCC Accepting Waiver Requests

Here are some of the regulatory and legal actions and developments of the last week of significance to broadcasters, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • The FCC released its Report and Order on annual regulatory fees for fiscal year 2020 and,

The FCC’s order on this year’s annual regulatory fees was released by the FCC this week.  The FCC rejected calls to forgive broadcast regulatory fees because of the economic fallout of the pandemic, noting that only Congress could pass such relief, as the FCC is required by law to collect fees sufficient to cover the costs of its operations.  The Commission did, however, offer some terms for the payment over time of the fees by companies that are hard-hit by the economic conditions that resulted from COVID-19, and simplified the waiver process for stations that can demonstrate that they cannot pay the fees without imperiling their service to the public.  The order also rejected the NAB’s request to revisit the fees for radio, though some minor downward adjustments were made in those fees based on the FCC’s finding that it had undercounted the number of radio stations that were to share in the payment of these fees.

The FCC determined that it could not waive all regulatory fees for broadcasters, or broadly excuse them from the 25% late-payment penalty, because these obligations are in the statute and cannot be waived without Congressional authorization.  The FCC is required by law to collect these fees before the October 1 start of the next fiscal year in an amount sufficient to reimburse the US Treasury for the costs of operating the Commission.  While the FCC felt itself powerless to totally waive the rules, it did simplify the process for individual stations to make requests for waiver of the fees if the payment of the fees would imperil their ability to serve the public or to extend the payments out over time – without the need for any upfront payment of a significant portion of the fees.  The FCC noted that the Office of the Managing Director will be issuing a separate Public Notice establishing the process for asking for waiver or deferral, so watch for the notice coming soon as these request will likely need to be filed before the payment deadline, which will also be established in a subsequent public notice.  But the Order does say that the requests for waiver and payment over time can be made in a single email to the FCC, and that the Managing Director’s office is to work with broadcasters to try to help them provide the necessary documentation to support the waiver or deferral of payments.
Continue Reading FCC Releases Order on Regulatory Fees – No Widespread Waivers of Fees But Some Deferred Payments Possible – Payment Dates Coming Soon

Here are some of the regulatory and legal developments of the last week of significance to broadcasters, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how they may affect your operations.

  • The FCC this week released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing changes to the fees it charges broadcasters for

As broadcasters continue to respond to the coronavirus while sometimes juggling work duties with family responsibilities like at-home virtual schooling, it would be easy to overlook regulatory dates and responsibilities.  This post should help alert you to some important dates in September that all stations should keep in mind – and we will also provide a reminder of some of the dates to remember in early October.  As in any year, as summer ends, regulatory activity picks up – and this year appears to be no different.

Each year, in September, regulatory fees are due, as the FCC is required to collect them before the October 1 start of the new fiscal year.  We expect that the final amount of those fees, and the deadlines and procedures for payment, should be announced any day.  For broadcasters, one of the big issues is whether those fees will be adjusted downward from what was initially proposed by the FCC in their Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in this proceeding.  The National Association of Broadcasters has been leading an effort (we wrote about this here and NAB detailed recent meetings between CEO Gordon Smith and members of its legal department with FCC staff here and here) urging the FCC to reduce the amount of fees owed by broadcasters, in part because of the financial toll the pandemic has taken on the industry and in part because the proposed fee structure, which is determined by estimates as to how many FCC staffers are detailed to regulating an industry and the related benefit that industry receives, inaccurately reflects the number of FCC employees who work on radio issues.  Look for that decision very soon.
Continue Reading September Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters: Annual Regulatory Fees, Lowest Unit Rate Window Opening, C-Band Reimbursement, Rulemaking Comments and More