FCC Reviews How Radio Regulatory Fees Assessed

FY2015 fees proposed
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FCC Radio Regulatory Fees 2015

The FCC says it expects to collect nearly $400 million in regulatory fees in FY2015, the same as FY2014 and the previous three years.

Of that, just over $28 million comes from radio and $23.6 million from TV broadcasters. Commercial radio stations paying regulatory fees outnumber TV stations: 10,226 to 4,754.

For radio, the fees range from the lowest at $775 for a Class A in the smallest markets to $12,025 for FM Classes B, C, C0, C1 and C2 in the largest market. Noncoms are exempt.

Effective this year, regulatory fees on Broadcast Auxiliary licenses and Satellite TV construction permits have been eliminated.

The commission sets the fees it collects from each industry the agency regulates according to how many FCC employees are involved in regulating that service and the commission reviews its processes periodically. In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the commission asks whether the agency should reexamine the number of people devoted to regulating radio versus TV and adjust the fee for each “to more accurately take into account factors related to ‘the benefits provided to the payor of the fee by the commission’s activities.’”

Currently TV fees are based on market rank while radio remains assessed by population size and station class. The agency asks whether radio fees should be calculated like TV, noting that may provide radio stations “more stability and predictability.”

Specifically, the commission asks for guidance on whether the current dividing points for radio and TV remain appropriate and whether the dividing points for radio should account for demographic change in a market.

After reviewing the public comments on the issue, the agency will release an order, likely this summer, with the final 2015 fee amounts and establish a filing window for September. Any changes made to the broadcasters’ assessment are not likely to apply to this year’s fees, the commission has tentatively concluded.

Comments to Docket 15-121 are due June 22 and replies on July 6.

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