FCC annual regulatory fees

The FCC is beginning to consider the amount of annual regulatory fees to be paid by broadcasters and other entities regulated by the FCC.  These fees should be due in August or September of this year, prior to the start of the government’s fiscal year on October 1.  To begin the review process, the FCC issued a notice of proposed rulemaking setting out its proposed fees for this year, as well as highlighting a few issues for public comment concerning the computation of fees in the future.  Comments on the FCC proposals are due on July 7, with reply comments a week later.

Regulatory fees are to be paid by entities regulated by the FCC in proportion to the costs of their regulation, computed by the number of FCC employees who are tasked with administering the rules for a particular service.  Congress tells the FCC how much the FCC needs to raise from fees, and the FCC divides up that burden by the number of “full time equivalents” (FTEs) who are assigned to regulating a particular service.  The FCC spends much time in its NPRM evaluating how to assign the responsibility for various employees to a particular service in order to arrive at the proper allocation of fees.  The Commission asks for comments on these proposals which, when adopted, might affect the allocation of fees to the entities regulated by the Media Bureau (like broadcasters) and by those regulated by other FCC bureaus.  The Commission also noted a few broadcast-specific proposals.
Continue Reading FCC Seeks Comments on Proposals for This Year’s Regulatory Fees

The FCC has released its order setting this year’s Regulatory Fees to be paid by broadcast stations.  While has not yet set the deadline for paying those fees, that deadline should fall sometime in August or September.  In setting this year’s fees, the Commission made some decisions about fees for broadcasters that may not make sense to some – but it promised to review the decisions in the future when determining the amounts of fees in future years.  Perhaps the most controversial issue will be the fees that it set for television stations – which retain the distinction between UHF and VHF stations, and retain the requirement that VHF stations pay significantly higher fees – even though such stations are often disadvantaged (and certainly not advantaged) in the digital world.  Fees for television stations range from $81,550 for VHF stations in the Top 10 markets (versus $32,275 in those markets for UHF stations), to $6125 for VHF stations in the smallest markets versus $3050 for UHF stations.  The many stations now operating digitally on UHF channels that had previously operated on VHF channels in analog will receive some big savings, while some stations forced to operate on VHF channels for the first time may well be in for a surprise as to the reg fees that they will be paying.

The Commission also rejected requests to decrease the amount paid by AM stations in comparison to FMs, though it promised to revisit that issue in the future.  Other proposals to base payment directly on population served by a station were also rejected.  For TV translators and LPTV stations, if an entity is operating both an analog and digital station while in the process of its digital conversion, fees will have to be paid on both stations.  Full-power television stations will have to pay on their digital operations, even if they were operating with STA facilities on October 1, 2009, the beginning of the fiscal year for which these fees are paid.  All fees are based on the facilities of a station as of that date.  Specific fees for broadcasters are set out below.


Continue Reading FCC Sets Regulatory Fees – Payment Date Not Yet Set