FCC Getting Rid of UHF (Fee) Discount

The FCC has already decided to get rid of
one UHF discount. That is according to its just-released order on new
regulatory fees--the annual fees it charges licensees. The commission has not
decided how to treat IPTV, but says starting in 2014 it will be IPTV and cable
in the same regulatory fee category.

The said that
starting in 2014, it will charge UHFs and VHFs the same regulatory fees, rather
than charing UHF's less, as it has been doing.

The FCC has also
proposed getting rid of the 50% discount UHF stations got in counting their
viewers towards the FCC's 39% ownership cap. In both cases the change is meant
to reflect the fact that in the digital age, UHF signals are better than VHF's,
which used to be the gold standard in the analog era.

According to the
order, low power, Class A, and translator/booster stations still broadcasting
in both analog and digital will only have to pay one regulatory fee.

Also starting in
2014, the FCC will collect regulatory fees from Internet Protocol TV (IPTV)
licensees and will put cable television and IPTV in the same category. It
decided not to include DBS providers in that category "at this time."

Also starting in
2014, all regulatory fees will have to be paid electronically, and the FCC will
push to get its money sooner from scofflaws. "[B]eginning in FY 2014,
unpaid regulatory fees will be transferred for collection to the U.S.
Department of the Treasury at the end of the payment period rather than 180
days thereafter."

The FCC is
recalculating the number of full-time employees (FTEs) assigned to regulating
different services, but will put a cap of 7.5% on any increased fee that
results from that calculation, though that is only a temporary step as it
reforms its regulatory fee program more broadly, which it will tee up in a
Second Notice of Further Proposed Rulemaking it says will be out shortly.

John Eggerton

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.