The FCC announced yesterday 2015 regulatory fees are due by 11:59 pm (Eastern Daylight Time) on September 24, 2015.  The FCC also announced that the FCC’s automated filing and payment system (Fee Filer) for FY 2015 regulatory fees was open yesterday and will reopen on Tuesday, September 8 (it is closed today through the holiday weekend as the entire FCC electronic filing system is being shut down for maintenance).  All commercial radio and television stations (and those who hold construction permits for unbuilt commercial stations) must pay these fees.  The fees for radio are the same as were proposed in our article on the FCC’s proposal for the fees, here.  The fees for TV changed slightly from those proposed in May, and are set out at the bottom of this article.  The FCC also issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, asking a number of questions about potential changes in the computation of broadcast fees in the future.

The FCC reminded all parties who pay fees that checks will not be accepted for regulatory fees.  Instead, all fees must be paid electronically by online “ACH” payment (an electronic payment system that many use for transferring money from one party’s accounts to another’s account), by credit card (though credit card payments will only be accepted when a company’s total fees due are less than $25,000), or wire transfer, all with an accompanying FCC 159-E form which must first be electronically filed through the FCC’s Fee Filer system. 
Continue Reading FCC Regulatory Fees Due September 24 – Plus FCC Proposes Changes in Future Broadcaster Fee Computations

Paying regulatory fees is a part of the yearly calendar for broadcasters and other entities that do business before the FCC. These fees are usually due in August or September, to be paid before the start of the FCC’s fiscal year on October 1. And each year, about this time, the FCC puts out a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), asking about its system for collecting royalties and what changes should be made before fee collection begins in a few months. That order came out yesterday. It resolves some issues left over from last year (deciding, for instance, to assess fees for Direct Broadcast Satellite television providers), and asks many questions – including some about broadcasters. For broadcasters, questions include whether the FCC should adjust the relative percentages of its collections from radio and TV (a question that could pit broadcasters against each other) and whether changes should be made in allocation of fees within a service, adjusting the rates currently paid by different classes of radio and TV stations. The FCC also asks whether it should adopt rules that allow stations in economically depressed areas to get relief from regulatory fees. The fees proposed for broadcasters for this year are set out at the end of this article. Comments on the FCC proposals are due on June 22, and replies by July 6.

Regulatory fees (or “reg fees” to most folks in the communications world) are assessed to recapture from those being regulated the costs of that regulation. To figure out what each regulated commercial entity must pay, the FCC has to try to allocate its budget among the various services that it regulates, based on how many of its employees spend their time regulating a particular industry (based on Full Time Employees – or “FTEs” – an FTE being a person working full-time at the FCC, or, for instance, two half-time employees who together count as a single FTE). So the FCC each year has to go through a complex analysis of the work that it does, and try to allocate the time spent by each of its employees on particular regulated services. As these NPRMs on reg fees make clear, this can be a very difficult process, as there will obviously be some employees who spend time on projects that cut across service lines – e.g. those in the International Bureau who negotiate with foreign governments may benefit broadcasters in some negotiations, and wireline or wireless companies in others. Or the Enforcement Bureau, the Office of the General Counsel and the Commissioner’s staffs may handle a diversity of matters covering all sorts of services. The allocations that are arrived at can be interesting and debatable – and have little to do with the economics of the industries involved or their revenue base.
Continue Reading FCC Asks for Comments on Regulatory Fees for 2015 – Lots of Questions about Broadcast Fees