The FCC today released its schedule for Regulatory Fees that will be paid in September of this year.  The Order set the fees to be paid by entities regulated by the FCC, increasing those fees as required by Congress by approximately 7.5% over the fees paid last year. The fees to be paid by broadcasters are set forth below.  Fees for all other services can be found in the appendix to the FCC’s Order setting the fees.  The exact window for paying the fees has not yet been set, but should be announced later this month, in a public notice that will also provide more details on the filing process.  The Order also contains a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, asking if the FCC should change the allocation of fees between the services regulated by the FCC.  As to broadcasters specifically, the FCC asks if it should adopt fees for Digital Television, as the current FCC fees apply only to analog television.  Comments on these issues will be due 30 days after this Order is published in the Federal Register.

In reaching its decision as to the fees for 2008, the FCC decided not to impose a fee on AM expanded band stations for the current fee cycle – but it will decide whether to do so after the FCC decides the issue raised in the pending Diversity proceeding as to whether to allow licensees to retain those AM stations if they are held by a small business entity.

Fees are paid based on the status of the station as of October 1, 2007 (so, for instance, if a station had received an upgrade in the interim, it pays based on its old facilities).  However, the licensee who owns the station as of the date that fees are due is responsible for paying those fees, even if it did not own the station as of October 1, 2007.  Fees for radio are set by a combination of the predicted population served by the station and the class of the station, while TV station’s fees are paid based on TV market size.  Parties holding construction permits for new stations pay flat fees regardless of the area served by the proposed station, and there are also flat fees for broadcast auxiliaries, television stations that are authorized as satellites of other stations, and secondary broadcast stations (e.g. translators).  Noncommercial operators are exempt from the fees.  The fees for broadcasters can be seen by clicking on the "Continue Reading" link below. 


Continue Reading FCC Sets 2008 Regulatory Fees and Starts Proceeding to Reallocate Future Fees

The FCC today issued an order extending the comment deadline in its Broadcast Diversity proceeding, extending the comment date a full month until July 30, with Reply Comments now due on August 29.  This important proceeding, about which we wrote here, will address many issues, including proposals to, among other things, repurpose television

The Commission today published notice in the Federal Register revising the dates for submitting comments in its rule making "In the Matter of Promoting Diversification of Ownership in the Broadcasting Services."  If you will recall, this is the rule making proceeding that seeks comment on a number of new proposals, including whether to

UPDATE  5-29-2008-  Please note, the Commission has revised the dates for submitting comments in this rule making proceeding.  Comments in the proceeding are now due on or before June 30, 2008, and Reply Comments are due on or before July 14, 2008.  This means that interested parties have a couple of weeks less than

The FCC today released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking asking for public comment on its proposed Regulatory Fees for 2008.  These fees are paid annually by most commercial entities that are regulated by the FCC for the privilege of being regulated.  Noncommercial broadcasters are exempt from the fees.  The fees are normally paid in August or September, during a period of several days that will be established by the Commission after receiving comments on this proposed fee schedule.  The fees for broadcasters are, as they seemingly always do, increasing.  The Commission is also asking for comment on one specific change in how broadcast fees are collected, asking if it should collect fees from AM station licensees who have expanded band stations for both the expanded band station and the in-core channel, if the licensee is still operating both.  Currently, fees are only paid once by expanded band licensees. 

Broadcast fees are based on Class of Service and the population covered by a station.  For AM stations, the proposed fees are to increase from $400 per station for the least powerful stations in the smallest market to $450, and from $7275 for high-powered stations in the largest markets  to $7925.  For FM stations, the least powerful stations in the smallest markets are proposed to increase from $575 to $600.  For high power stations in big markets, the increase is from $9125 to $10,200.  For TV stations, the fees range from $1875 for a UHF station in the smallest markets, up to $69,400 for a VHF station in the largest markets, up from $1750 and $64,300 last year. 


Continue Reading FCC Proposes 2008 Regulatory Fee Schedule

We recently wrote about the Federal Communications Commission’s actions in their Diversity docket, designed to promote new entrants into the ranks of broadcast station owners. In addition to the rules adopted in the proceeding, the FCC is seeking comment on a number of other ideas – some to restrict the definition of the Designated Entities that are eligible to take advantage of these rules, others to expand the universe of media outlets available to potential broadcast owners – including proposals to expand the FM band onto TV channels 5 and 6, and proposals to allow certain AM stations, which were to be returned to the FCC after their owners received construction permits for expanded band stations, to retain those stations or transfer them to Designated Entities. The proposals, on which public comment is being sought, are summarized below.

Definition of Designated Entity. The first issue raised by the Commission deals with whether the class of applicants entitled to Designated Entity status and entitled to take advantage of the Commission’s diversity initiatives should be restricted. One proposal is to restrict the Designated Entity status to companies controlled by racial minorities. The Commission expressed skepticism about that proposal, noting that the courts had throw out several versions of the FCC’s EEO rules, finding that there was insufficient justification offered by the FCC to constitutionally justify raced-based preferences. The Commission asked that proponents of such preferences provide a “compelling” showing of needed, as necessary for a constitutional justification for governmental race-based discrimination.


Continue Reading FCC’s Acts to Increase Diversity in Media Ownership – Part 2, The Proposals for Future Actions – Channel 6 for FM, AM Expanded Band, Definition of Designated Entity, Must Carry for Class A TV and Others

In a very unusual process – one that is probably unprecedented – the FCC last week announced that it is opening a window for parties to file applications for a new AM station to serve Rockland County, New York.  AM stations are traditionally made available for filing on an on-demand basis – when the FCC accepts applications for new stations, parties can file in any location in the country, specifying any city of license that they select, as long as the station that they propose will not create interference to existing stations.  This is unlike FM and TV, where there is a two step process – new channels are first allotted at specific locations based on a party’s request, but that party gets no rights to the channel.  Instead, after the allotment has been made, anyone can file for in a specified window seeking a construction permit to build the new station.  In this window, the FCC has adopted a unique process for an AM stations, a process much more like that used in FM and TV.  The Commission had been asked by a party for permission to operate a new station in Rockland County.  Instead of simply permitting that party to build a station without competition, the FCC decided that a new station was necessary to provide emergency information about the nuclear power plant in the Rockland area, but determined that anyone could file for that channel.  Applications for the channel (1700 AM – on the expanded band, for which there have been no applications for almost 10 years since the first set of expressions of interest were taken), will be accepted from October 1 through October 5.

In order to give parties the ability to prepare applications, the FCC is imposing a freeze on the filing of minor change applications for AM stations throughout the country during the filing window.  Any minor change application that is filed during the window will be returned.  So if you are planning an application for a technical change to your AM station, you need to plan to avoid that filing window.


Continue Reading AM Filing Freeze While FCC Accepts Applications for a New AM in Rockland County, New York