The FCC today released a series of public notices setting September 27 as the deadline for the filing of Annual Regulatory fees. We wrote here about the FCC Order setting the amount of those fees, and reminding TV stations, even ones looking to surrender their licenses in the incentive auction, that they must still pay those fees by the upcoming deadline. These notices also announced that the fee filing system is now up and operating, so fees can be paid at any time. Finally, the notices talk about some of the details of the fee filing process, covering who is eligible and how exemptions from fee obligations can be obtained.
One of the Public Notices sets out instructions for requests for waivers and deferrals of the fee obligations. Any party thinking about filing such a request needs to carefully follow the instructions and fully document the reasons for the waiver, as the failure to fully follow the rules will result in penalties and interest. In fact, to avoid the potential for penalties and interest, the FCC suggests paying the fee and asking for a refund, rather than asking for a deferral and waiver of the fee obligations.
The Media Bureau also released a Public Notice summarizing the fee payment process for broadcasters. Licensees can also look up the specific fees to be paid by each station. The site at which this information about the fees owed by specific stations can be found here. As those fees are based on the population served by each station, as computed by the FCC, stations need to see the FCC’s computations to determine the amount that they owe. In yet another notice released by the Commission, it sets out the categories of broadcasters who are exempt from paying any fees – basically noncommercial broadcasters and those broadcasters whose fees are de minimis – where the licensee’s fees total less than $500.
The fee filing process is now underway. To avoid penalties for late filings, and to avoid the potential of having application processing blocked and other sanctions for nonpayment of the fees, be sure to meet the September 27 deadline.