The FCC has released its annual Report and Order showing the regulatory fees due for the 2016 fiscal year. Fees must be paid by 11:59 pm Eastern time on September 27, although the FCC‘s Fee Filer is accepting fees now. As in past years, the FCC will not be mailing out any notices of fees due. It is up to each licensee, permittee or regulatee to insure that these fees are timely paid. Fees paid even one day late will be subject to a 25% penalty plus administrative processing charges, so timely payment will be 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 or receive disbursements from the federal universal service programs such as E-rate, pursuant to the Commission's "red light" policy until all fees and penalties are paid.

Regulatory fees can only be paid by wire, online ACH payment or online credit card, and all payers will need both an FCC Registration Number (FRN) and a completed "Fee Filer Form" 159-E prior to filing. The FCC no longer accepts checks or paper filings. Also, credit card payments are limited to $24,999.99, although debit card payments have no limit.

For most services, fees are based on FCC licenses and permits held as of October 1, 2015 (the first day of the FCC’s 2016 fiscal year), although cable TV rates are based on the number of basic subscribers as of December 31, 2015 and the interstate telecommunications service provider/VoIP fees are based on the 2015 revenues reported on the entity’s 2016 FCC Form 499-A. Noncommercial stations and all nonprofit entities are exempt from paying regulatory fees.

Last year, the FCC initiated a regulatory fee for DBS providers at the rate of 12 cents per subscriber vs. 96 cents per subscriber paid by cable TV operators. Following an unsuccessful challenge of last year’s fee from the DBS operators, the FCC is raising the DBS rate to 27 cents per subscriber. Although that is more than double last year’s rate, it remains substantially below the 2016 cable TV rate of $1.00 per subscriber.

The FCC has added a new category to AM and FM Radio fees to divide broadcasters that serve 3,000,001 – 6,000,000 from those that have higher population coverage. Stations in the smallest markets have had their fees slightly reduced from the FCC’s NPRM. The FCC also notes that TV stations participating in the ongoing incentive auction are still required to pay regulatory fees.

The FCC continues its policy that anyone whose total regulatory fee liability is $500 or less is exempt from payment of regulatory fees, but notes that this de minimis threshold could change from year to year. As was the case last year, broadcast auxiliary licenses are also exempt from regulatory fees.

Although a summary of fees is shown below, the FCC website contains links to more information about the fees owed, including fees for services not mentioned below.

A. Broadcast Services

1. AM and FM Radio




AM Class A

AM Class B

AM Class C

AM Class D

FM Classes

A, B1 & C3

FM Classes

B, C, C0, C1 & C2








25,001 – 75,000







75,001 – 150,000







150,001 – 500,000







500,001 – 1,200,000







1,200,001 – 3,000,00







3,000,001 – 6,000,000














AM Construction Permits


FM Construction Permits


2. Digital Television

The FCC has eliminated the distinction between VHF and UHF for digital TV regulatory fees, as follows:

Fee Category

Annual Regulatory Fee

Digital TV (47 CFR part 73) VHF and UHF Commercial

Markets 1-10


Markets 11-25


Markets 26-50


Markets 51-100


Remaining Markets


Construction Permits


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