The FCC announced yesterday 2015 regulatory fees are due by 11:59 pm (Eastern Daylight Time) on September 24, 2015. The FCC also announced that the FCC’s automated filing and payment system (Fee Filer) for FY 2015 regulatory fees was open yesterday and will reopen on Tuesday, September 8 (it is closed today through the holiday weekend as the entire FCC electronic filing system is being shut down for maintenance). All commercial radio and television stations (and those who hold construction permits for unbuilt commercial stations) must pay these fees. The fees for radio are the same as were proposed in our article on the FCC’s proposal for the fees, here. The fees for TV changed slightly from those proposed in May, and are set out at the bottom of this article. The FCC also issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, asking a number of questions about potential changes in the computation of broadcast fees in the future.

The FCC reminded all parties who pay fees that checks will not be accepted for regulatory fees. Instead, all fees must be paid electronically by online “ACH” payment (an electronic payment system that many use for transferring money from one party’s accounts to another’s account), by credit card (though credit card payments will only be accepted when a company’s total fees due are less than $25,000), or wire transfer, all with an accompanying FCC 159-E form which must first be electronically filed through the FCC’s Fee Filer system. 

Broadcasters should remember that this year, unlike in the past, separate fees are not due for broadcast auxiliary stations (e.g. STLs, Remote Pickup stations, etc.). Separate fees do still need to be paid by licensees of FM and TV translators and boosters, LPTV stations and Class A TV stations.

Also, broadcasters need to remember that the failure to pay fees on time will lead to financial penalties, and will preclude the broadcaster from filing FCC applications until the fees have been paid in full because of a “red light” that will be imposed on their online FCC accounts.

The FCC’s Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking suggests some changes in the way that broadcasters’ fees are computed. First, the FCC suggests slightly changing the fees for TV stations, increasing slightly the amount paid by the largest television stations, and decreasing slightly those paid by other TV stations. Second, they propose reallocating the amount of fees paid between radio and TV to accurately reflect the cost of regulating these entities – though exactly how that reallocation would work is unclear. Finally, they propose changing the calculations of the fees paid by radio stations, adding a new category for radio stations than serve more than 3 million people, and changing the way that fees are calculated for stations in other population and service class categories. The proposed fee changes seem to help some categories of broadcasters by slightly reducing fees, while increasing fees on others. While the radio stations covering three million or more people would clearly pay more, the effect on other stations seems to be uneven, with some categories paying slightly more, and others slightly less. Review the FCC order carefully to see how your station would be affected.

Links to the FCC’s orders will be added next week, when the FCC electronic system is back up and running.

The fees for TV stations are as follows. As set forth above, the radio fees are unchanged from those that we published when the FCC first proposed those fees back in May (see our article here). Check the exact amount that the FCC has computed for your station in the FCC Fee Filer once it opens for business next week.

Digital TV – both VHF and UHF Commercial Stations

Markets 1-10 – $46,825

Markets 11-25 – $43,200

Markets 26-50 – $27,625

Markets 51-100 – $16,275

Remaining Markets – $4,850

Construction Permits – $4,850

Satellite Television Stations (All Markets) – $1,575

Low Power TV, Class A TV, TV/FM Translators & Boosters – $440