The FCC has announced the final amount of its regulatory fees for FCC Fiscal Year 2011 – fees that will be due during a window not yet announced – but likely sometime in late August or September.  The Fees, set out below, are pretty much identical to those that were proposed in May, when the FCC sought comments on these fees.  The procedures for filing will be much the same as in the recent past, though the FCC did make a few clarifications on some issues affecting broadcasters.  These issues include the following:

  • The FCC will no longer mail notices to broadcasters about their fee obligations.  Instead, stations will need to go to the FCC website to verify the amount of the fees they owe.  Look for the site containing that information to be live in the next few weeks.
  • The FCC decided that LPTV and TV translator stations that operate both analog and digital facilities during their digital transition will pay only one fee.  As we wrote last week, that transition will end (barring reconsideration or other review of last week’s order) for stations operating on Channels 52-69 at the end of the year, and will end in 2015 for all other LPTV and TV translator stations. 
  • The FCC promised to start a new rulemaking before the end of the year to reassess the allocation of the regulatory fee burden.  Within the broadcast industry, that would mean looking at issues such as whether VHF television stations should pay more than UHF stations for their fees – when in the digital world, most think that UHF channels are actually more valuable than those on the VHF band.  But, with potentially more impact, the FCC would look at rebalancing its fees over all the different industries that it regulates. Congress gives the FCC a specific amount of fees that it must raise from all of the industries that it regulates.  The percentage that broadcasters pay has been unchanged for many years.  The FCC is going to review that allocation to assess how business in the various industries have changed to see how those allocations should be changed in the future.

The FCC also reminded broadcasters that they needed to make the payments on time to avoid late fees and interest charges.  Broadcasters pay fees based on a station’s status as of October 1, 2010.  Thus, a station that was an unbuilt CP as of October I, 2010, but has subsequently been constructed, still pays the CP fee for this year.  The same goes for stations that have received upgrades in the period after October 1 – they pay only the amount due for their status as of October 1, 2010.  However, if a station has changed ownership since October 1, the new owner is still the one liable for the fee payment.  The broadcast regulatory fees for this year are set forth below:Continue Reading FCC Sets Regulatory Fees for Fiscal Year 2011 – Look for August or September Payment Deadline

Last week, amid the flurry of other actions taken on retransmission consent, rural radio and video accessibility, the Commission released its proposal for revisions to its regulatory filing fees, as it is required to do every two years.  The proposed fees for broadcast applications are set out below.  No other changes in any of the fees or fee categories are proposed.  According to the FCC proposal, the fees will rise by the amount of the cost of living increase since the last time the fees were adjusted – thus the cost to file FCC applications will rise by 3.5%.

Comments on the proposed fees are due 15 days after the Notice is published in the Federal Register, with replies due 30 days after that publication.  The table below sets out the fees for broadcast applications for main stations.   Proposed fees for applications for broadcast auxiliaries and other non-broadcast services are set out in the Notice of Proposed RulemakingContinue Reading FCC Proposes Revised Application Filing Fees

If a broadcaster or other FCC regulatee has not paid their regulatory fees when they are due, the FCC’s computer system will show a "red light" on the company that owed the fee – and the FCC will not grant any applications filed by that company.  As it is, it can take days

The FCC’s Annual Regulatory Fee web site, available at  www.fccfees.com, is now active and indicates that the Reg Fees are due by 11:59 PM EDT on August 31, 2010.  A further public notice, which will include detailed instructions on how to access the FCC’s Fee Filer database and remit the payment of the

The FCC today announced a $1,000,000 Consent Decree with Univision Radio to settle payola investigations underway at both the FCC and the Department of Justice.  Payola, or "pay for play" as it is called in the FCC Press Release issued today, is a violation of FCC rules and Federal criminal law, which both prohibit

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

The FCC today released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking asking for public comment on its proposed Regulatory Fees for 2010. 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 annual regulatory fees. Collectively, the FCC is proposing to collect over $335 million in fees this year from licensees across the various regulated services. The fees are normally paid in September, and the specific deadline for the payment of this year’s fees will be set by a future Order after the FCC has received comments on, and formally adopted, this proposed fee schedule. The FCC has set a short time for comments, with initial Comments on the proposed fees due by May 4, 2010, and Reply Comments due on May 11, 2010.

As in the past, the Regulatory Fees for broadcast stations are generally based on the Class of Service and the population covered by a station. For the most part, the fees proposed for 2010 for broadcast stations are not much different from the 2009 rates, with the fees for a few categories of television stations actually going down slightly. Additionally, there is no change in the fee proposed for LPTV, Class A, and television translator stations.  The full list of proposed fees across the various categories of broadcast stations is provided below.  A few things to note with respect to the fees with respect to digital television stations. The NPRM proposes to collect annual regulatory fees from all digital full-service television stations, including any that may have been operating pursuant to Special Temporary Authority (rather than a license) on October 1, 2009.  With respect to low power and Class A television stations, the FCC has proposed that if a station is operating both an analog and a paired digital signal, then only a single regulatory fee will be assessed for the analog facility and no fee would be required for the digital companion channel.

Not surprisingly, the Commission has proposed to make the use of its electronic Fee Filer database  for the submission of the annual regulatory feesmandatory again, as it was in 2009.  It has also proposed that 2010 will be the last year that it will send out reminder letters to broadcast stations about the fees. Starting in 2011, the FCC is proposing to discontinue sending out media notification letters. As the payment deadline will be sometime in September, watch for an Order this Summer adopting the proposed fees, after folks have had a chance to comment. Continue Reading FCC Proposes 2010 Annual Regulatory Fees