The FCC is beginning to consider the amount of annual regulatory fees to be paid by broadcasters and other entities regulated by the FCC. These fees should be due in August or September of this year, prior to the start of the government’s fiscal year on October 1. To begin the review process, the FCC issued a notice of proposed rulemaking setting out its proposed fees for this year, as well as highlighting a few issues for public comment concerning the computation of fees in the future. Comments on the FCC proposals are due on July 7, with reply comments a week later.
Regulatory fees are to be paid by entities regulated by the FCC in proportion to the costs of their regulation, computed by the number of FCC employees who are tasked with administering the rules for a particular service. Congress tells the FCC how much the FCC needs to raise from fees, and the FCC divides up that burden by the number of “full time equivalents” (FTEs) who are assigned to regulating a particular service. The FCC spends much time in its NPRM evaluating how to assign the responsibility for various employees to a particular service in order to arrive at the proper allocation of fees. The Commission asks for comments on these proposals which, when adopted, might affect the allocation of fees to the entities regulated by the Media Bureau (like broadcasters) and by those regulated by other FCC bureaus. The Commission also noted a few broadcast-specific proposals.
First, the FCC noted that it had already decided to do away with reg fee distinctions between UHF and VHF stations. In the past, VHF stations were paying more, as their signals in an analog world were stronger. In an order last year, the FCC decided that the digital world did away with that distinction, so all TV stations (whether they are UHF or VHF) will pay based on a single schedule based on market size.
The Commission also asks for comments on AM expanded band stations. These stations have, in the past, been exempt from reg fees, as they were supposed to have been transitional stations that would disappear when their paired station either moved to the expanded band or surrendered their expanded band license. As that has not happened, and as these stations continue to operate like any other AM station, the FCC proposes to impose fees on them just as it does for any other similarly powered station.
The other specific fees proposed for broadcasters for this year are as follows:
Click here to view table.
Look these proposals over for any concerns that you may have, and start your planning for paying these fees later this summer.