The FCC has just issued a Public Notice announcing that all Regulatory Fees will be due on or before September 20. The FCC Website on the fees, where broadcasters can look up the fees owned for each of their stations, is now live. That page gives the September 20 deadline. The main fee webpage can be
The FCC has finalized its regulatory fees for this year, though they have not announced the actual filing date, other than to say that the fees will be paid during a window to be announced sometime in September. In the Order announcing the new fees, in addition to setting the fees (which represent an increase for broadcasters of approximately 3.5% over past years), the FCC addressed several issues that it had raised in its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the fees, about which we wrote here. The issues for broadcasters were few, and some of the most significant changes will not take place until the future.
One of the simple issues that was addressed was the difference between the fees for UHF and VHF television stations. Regulatory fees have always reflected the analog preference of VHF stations over UHF, as those stations had larger coverage and were, generally, more profitable. In the digital world, it is exactly the reverse, as UHF stations are far better at transmitting a digital signal. Yet the fees still reflect the old reality – and VHF stations, as set forth below, pay twice as much as UHF stations. The FCC finally recognized that this was not right, and has decided to set regulatory fees at the same level for both VHF and UHF stations. But, because of certain procedural requirements, the new fees will not take effect until next year. So, this year, VHF stations will again continue to pay a disproportionately high fee.
The Commission also promised to review other fees in the future. Part of the way that fees are set is based on the percentage of the FCC’s resources that are devoted to the regulatory activities associated with a particular communications industry service, as reflected by the employees in the FCC Bureau most directly in charge of regulating the service . One of the reasons for the increase in the fees for broadcasters is because the FCC decided that the fees previously associated with the International Bureau, whose services working on International treaties and clearances, benefit all different kinds of communications entities regulated by other FCC Bureaus, should be largely reallocated to those other Bureaus for purposes of counting the fees paid by the communications services regulated by those other Bureaus. At least part of the International Bureau fees were allocated to the Media Bureau which regulates broadcasters. In fact, this reallocation will increase fees to an even greater extent over time, but the FCC capped the rate of increase for fees for this year, to avoid “sticker shock” to the various services whose fees will increase.Continue Reading FCC Announces Regulatory Fees to be Paid in September – Specific Filing Dates to Be Announced Soon
While I was away for the last few weeks, there have been a number of actions important to broadcasters and other media companies that we’ll be covering in the next few days. For broadcasters, one annual notice that recently was released by the FCC is the proposal for this year’s annual regulatory fees which will be payable in August or September to reimburse the government for the cost of the FCC’s regulation of the industry. Each year, prior to implementing the new fees, the FCC asks for comments on the fees to be paid by licensees – teeing up specific issues where procedures or allocations of fees for public comment before such changes are implemented. This year is no exception. What is slightly different is that, instead of simply making its proposal for the fees to be paid by broadcasters, the FCC has instead proposed two different sets of rates, based on different ways of computing the costs of the regulation of broadcasters.
Regulatory fees are based on the FCC’s costs of regulating its licensees and other companies subject to FCC jurisdiction. The allocation is based on the number of FCC employees who work on matters relating to that particular class of service. In the past, the FCC has had five categories of licensees – including one for broadcasters who are regulated by the Media Bureau. The FCC has proposed to reduce that number to four, reasoning that the work done by the International Bureau ("IB") benefits many different types of regulated entities, not just those satellite licensees directly regulated by that Bureau (e.g. the IB is responsible for actions including treaty negotiations and cross-border issues involving all kinds of licensees, including broadcasters). By eliminating the separate allocation for the IB, and reallocating their employees to other bureaus for fee purposes, the FCC suggests that a fairer allocation of fees will result. Whether or not the FCC makes the proposed reallocation will most likely result in one of the possible fee schedules set forth below. Continue Reading FCC Proposes Annual Regulatory Fees – For Broadcasters, Fees Proposed to Increase, and FCC Proposes Future Change in UHF/VHF Fee Schedule
The FCC has released its Report and Order showing the annual regulatory fees due for the 2012 fiscal year. Although the due date has not yet been announced, it will likely be in September. The fees are intended to recover the Commission’s cost of operations, reported to be nearly $340 million.
Fees must be paid by all commercial FCC licensees and permittees as of October 1, 2011 (the first day of the 2012 fiscal year). In the event of an assignment or transfer of control after that date, fees are to be paid by the current permittees and licensees as of the payment due date in September. Noncommercial stations and all nonprofit entities are exempt from paying regulatory fees.
Although a summary of fees is shown below, each licensee or permittee will have to check the FCC website to determine the exact amount of fees owed, since the FCC will not be mailing out any notices of fees due. Fees paid even one day late will be subject to a 25% penalty plus administrative processing charges, so timely payment is critical. Unlike the IRS which uses the mailing date to determine timeliness, the FCC requires regulatory fees to be received by the due date to avoid late payment penalties. Licensees or permittees that fail to pay their regulatory fees in full will not be able to get FCC action on any subsequently filed applications pursuant to the Commission’s "red light" policy until all fees and penalties are paid.
Licensees and permittees will be able to pay by wire, credit card, check, money order or debit card, although all payers will need a an FCC Registration Number (FRN) and completed "Fee Filer Form" 159-E prior to filing.Continue Reading FCC Announces Regulatory Fees Due for FY 2012
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