In its Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Estimates [PDF] recently submitted to Congress, the FCC has proposed that regulatory fees—which are paid annually or upon license grating or renewal by most commercial FCC licensees—are going to increase. The 129 page document also suggests that satellite operators may have to bid for their spectrum in auction, as was the case before a court decision overturned that in 2005.
The administration is also proposing to give the FCC new authority to use fees as a spectrum management tool. These user fees would be applied to unauctioned spectrum licenses based on spectrum-management principles. It isn’t clear how this would apply to broadcasting, as some licenses were granted through auctions, while others were not. Fees would be phased in over time as part of an ongoing rulemaking process that’s investigating fee amounts and applicability. Such fees could begin in 2010 and are estimated to total $4.8 billion through 2020.