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FCC Announces FY2011 Regulatory Fee Amounts

The FCC has released a Report and Order which includes its final determinations as to how much each broadcast licensee will have to pay in Annual Regulatory Fees for fiscal year 2011 (FY2011). The FCC collects Annual Regulatory Fees to offset the cost of its non-application processing functions, such as its rulemaking function.

Each year, the FCC issues a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking setting forth the amounts it proposes to assess each type of license. After taking comments, the FCC releases the final amounts due for that year. It is common for the FCC to adopt its proposed fees without revision, although last year, the FCC significantly increased the fees on Commercial UHF Television Stations and erased promised reductions for radio stations. In contrast, this year, the FCC adopted the fees almost entirely as it had proposed them in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking put out in May.

Nevertheless, for FY2011, Commercial UHF Television Station fees again increased across the board from the amounts those stations paid in FY2010. Commercial VHF Television Station fees for those stations outside the top 25 markets decreased across the board. In addition, satellite television stations and LPTV, Class A television, TV Translator, TV Booster, FM Translator and FM Booster stations all had their fee amounts reduced from their FY2010 levels. The fees for most categories of radio stations increased modestly. A chart reflecting the fees for the various types of licenses affecting broadcast stations is attached here.

The FCC will release an additional Public Notice announcing the dates of the filing window for the fees and other details; however, it will accept payment beginning immediately. The FCC will not mail the hard copy assessments it has sent to broadcast stations in the past. Therefore, stations must be prepared to file and pay their fees without a specific reminder from the FCC.

As has been the case for the past few years, stations must make an online filing using the FCC’s Fee Filer system to report to the FCC the types and amounts of fees they are obligated to pay. Once they have done that, they can pay their fees electronically or by separately submitting payment to the FCC’s Lockbox.

Finally, the FCC reiterated its commitment to opening a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking before the end of 2011 to examine whether it should revise the manner in which it allocates the fee burden among the different industries it regulates, as well as to account for new sectors that have arisen since it first started collecting Annual Regulatory Fees in 1994. Commercial VHF Television Station licensees have previously complained that the FCC assigns too much of the Annual Regulatory Fee burden for media services to VHF stations. Licensees in other services have also objected to the manner in which their fees are calculated. Stations wishing to comment on the rebalancing of the fee obligations will have an opportunity to file Comments once the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is released.