FCC Issues Guidelines to Stations, Cable Ops for Annual Regulatory Fees

The FCC has issued its guidelines for stations, cable operators and others who have to pay their annual regulatory fees by Sept. 22.

Anyone who doesn't pay up by then is subject to a 25% late fee, according to the FCC.

The FCC said in July that it was not going to expand its hardship waivers for the fees to include stations that had had furloughs and layoffs.

The FCC has hiked its fees by almost 10% to help collect the $341,875,000 it says it needs.

Radio fees range from a few hundred dollars in the smallest markets to more than $8,000. TV fees range from $5,950 in markets above 100 to $77,575 in a top-10 market and $60,550 in markets 11-25. Midsized markets (51-100) have to pay $22,950.

State broadcast associations had asked the FCC to loosen its waiver standard for financial hardship. They argued that the current economic crisis was "crippling" stations nationwide. They argued that a station demonstrating that its revenues were "down substantially" and that it had to furlough or lay off employees, or could show that it was at risk of defaulting on loans--an all too-common headline in the media businesses--a waiver should be granted."

The FCC said the waiver policy already allowed for various showings of a "compelling" case for financial hardship, including balance sheet info, or evidence of bankruptcy, receivership, or going dark.

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.