The Federal Communications Commission intends to collect a total of $341,875,000 in regulatory fees for Fiscal Year 2009 and will open a filing window in September to collect the payments. That figure represents a 9.6% increase over last year’s fees, and the commission said it would spread the rise across its various fee categories.
For radio, the size of the population served as well as station power level, class and whether it is an AM or FM station, continue to determine the size of the fee. The fees are $400 and $650 for an AM and FM construction permit, respectively. Under the new schedule, a Class A AM serving a population of 25,000 or less would pay the lowest fee, $650 going up to $10,850 for the largest FM Classes serving a population of 3 million or more.
State broadcast associations tried to convince the commission to allow more flexibility in the FCC standard for granting a financial hardship waiver, saying the recession is crippling stations nationwide. Specifically, the associations asked that the agency consider a station eligible for a fee waiver if the station could prove its revenues are substantially down and it had to layoff employees or reduce salaries in order to keep the station operating, or is on the brink of bankruptcy.
The agency decided against adopting such a proposal, saying that its current standards to prove financial hardship are “bright line tests that can be administered predictably.” Various licensee groups (not just radio) are impacted by the economy from year to year and the FCC needs to make sure waivers from its fees are granted “predictably, fairly and efficiently,” said the agency in its decision.