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FCC Extends Streamlined Regulatory Fee Waiver Process

Tiles with letters on them that spell the word fees.
(Image credit: Birgit R/EyeEm/Getty Images)

The FCC has decided to extend its COVID-19-related financial hardship waiver process for its regulatory fees.

The FCC supports its ongoing operations through fees assessed FCC licensees including broadcasters and cable operators.

While its latest such fees must be paid by Sept. 28, it said Tuesday (Sept. 13) that it would extend the streamlined waiver process adopted in 2020 to those fees "due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic."

The FCC said it will again "waive, reduce or defer" the fees, but only for those "unambiguously articulating 'extraordinary circumstances' outweighing the public interest in recouping the cost of the Commissions regulatory services."

Such waiver requests must be received by Sep. 28 and provide evidence that it is unable to both pay the fee and maintain its service to the public and how the pandemic has affected that inability to pay.

Broadcasters, in arguing for reduced fees in 2022, which the FCC did not grant, certainly suggested they still need pandemic-related help with fees. "With stations dealing with continued fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and other inflationary pressures, many stations are simply trying to stay in business," the National Association of Broadcasters told the FCC in initial comments on the 2022 fees, citing the "increased need for fee relief among small regulatory fee payors due to the pandemic." ■

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.