September is one of the few months without a due date for the standard regulatory filings – no renewals, EEO public file reports, and no Quarterly Issues Programs Lists or Children’s Television Reports. Instead, the big filing this month is one that applies to all commercial broadcasters (and most entities regulated by the FCC in other services as well) – the annual regulatory fees due on September 20. We wrote about the deadline here (with links to the FCC webpage on which you can look up your fees), and the amounts of the fees by category of broadcaster, here. But just because there are no other regular filings due at the FCC does not mean that those in charge of regulatory compliance at your stations can take the month off once they have paid the fees.

No, there are plenty of other deadlines to which broadcasters should pay attention. Those who filed license renewal applications for radio stations in California and for TV stations in Illinois and Wisconsin should be running their post-filing license renewal announcements on the 1st and the 16th of the month. The next round of license renewals will be filed on October 1, and stations in the states where those renewals are due should be running the third and fourth of their pre-filing renewal announcements on the 1st and 16th. That would be TV stations in Iowa and Missouri, and radio stations in Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, American Samoa, Guam, the Mariana Islands, and Saipan.


Continue Reading September Regulatory Deadlines for Broadcasters – “Reg” Fees and Renewal Notices, With More Action to Come In October

The FCC just released its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to establish the regulatory fees to be paid by each of the entities that it regulates. Each year, before the FCC collects its annual regulatory fees from broadcasters and other entities subject to its oversight, it asks for comments on the amount of those fees.  This year, as has been the case in most of the past few years, there are few changes proposed in this Notice, thought the Commission does promise to issue additional rulemakings later this year, looking to readjust fees to take into account changes in the communications industry since these fees were first imposed almost 20 years ago.  Look, for instance, for a change to be proposed in the relative fees for UHF and VHF stations, which still reflect the analog world where VHF stations were more valuable. 

But any fundamental changes in the fees won’t be effective until 2013.  Essentially, the NPRM proposes just minor changes in fees so that the FCC can collect its 2012 fees in September.  The NPRM basically makes very small adjustments in the fees for broadcast stations, which are based on population coverage, to include numbers based on 2010 census data.  The fees proposed for broadcasters are set out below.  Comments on these proposals are due on May 31, with replies on June 7.  The exact dates on which these fees will be collected will be announced after the conclusion of this rulemaking proceeding.


Continue Reading FCC Proposes Regulatory Fees for 2012

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

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 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