FCC Issues 'What You Owe' Fees for 6 Categories

The FCC has released details of its annual "What You Owe" message to licensees in six categories of regulated services. Tuesday’s posting provides details of the Assessment of Regulatory Fees for Fiscal Year 2016, which the Commission issued on Friday (Sep. 2). Industry-specific fact sheets about the fees are posted on the FCC website. The regulatory fee payments must be received by Sep. 27, 2016.

The notices also include information about exemptions from the fee payments.

"What You Owe" advisories have been issued for media services licensees (radio and television, including low power stations), cable TV systems (including direct broadcasting satellite providers), commercial wireless services, international and satellite service licensees and interstate telecommunications service providers.   

Related: FCC Downsizes Spectrum Auction

The regulatory fees vary depending on the nature of each licensed business. For example, cable and DBS fees are based on the number of subscribers or on a CARS license. Fees for AM and FM radio station licensees are based on class of station and market population served.

Licensees of commercial VHF, UHF and satellite television stations plus construction permit holders for new stations pay fees based on the size of the Nielsen Designated Market Area. The FCC explained that the 2016 regulatory fee will be assessed on all full-service television stations that were licensed as of Oct. 1, 2015.  The digital-only exemption is no longer applicable. There are flat fees for low power TV operators.

Media services licensees can look up their FY 2016 regulatory fee amounts by logging onto the website: http://fccfees.com and clicking on the “View Fee Information and Exempt Status for any Broadcast Property” link.  After clicking on this link, licensees can view their fee amounts, fee codes, facility identification numbers, and other information pertinent to the filing of 2016 regulatory fees.

Related: CVCC Pitches FCC on Must-Haves in MVPD Set-Top Approach

"Licensees and regulatees should consult the 2016 Regulatory Fees Report for specific information concerning regulatory fee payment obligations, the regulatory fee process, and regulatory fee requirements for payment," according to the FCC notice. Industry-specific guidance appears in the FCC's "Who Owes Fees & What Is My FY 2016 Fee."

The Commission requires electronic payments and no longer accepts checks, money orders or cashier’s checks. Only credit card, ACH, and wire transfer payments will be accepted, the FCC said. There is a new limit this year on credit card payments. They must be no greater than $24,999.99, down from the previous credit card limit of  $49,999.99. 

The American Cable Association praised the FCC on its new fee plan which, it said, starts to  bring parity to DBS and cable/IPTV regulatory fees.

Related: FCC Posts Tutorial for TV Station Auction, Take Two

"ACA is very pleased to see the FCC remains firmly committed to establishing true regulatory fee parity between cable/IPTV providers and satellite TV's DirecTV and Dish," ACA President/ CEO Matthew M. Polka said after the FCC fee schedule was released. "As the FCC noted, the Media Bureau's oversight and regulatory work related to cable/IPTV providers and DBS providers are similar. In ACA's view, fee parity is also essential because smaller MVPDs should not be put in a position, by government policy, of subsidizing their largest pay-TV competitors."

The 27-cent-per-subscriber regulatory fee that Dish and DirecTV will be assessed in fiscal 2016 includes a three-cent fee to help the FCC accomplish a facilities reduction.

Polka pointed out that the $1 per subscriber fee from cable operators remains a "substantial...burden."

Gary Arlen

Contributor Gary Arlen is known for his insights into the convergence of media, telecom, content and technology. Gary was founder/editor/publisher of Interactivity Report, TeleServices Report and other influential newsletters; he was the longtime “curmudgeon” columnist for Multichannel News as well as a regular contributor to AdMap, Washington Technology and Telecommunications Reports. He writes regularly about trends and media/marketing for the Consumer Technology Association's i3 magazine plus several blogs. Gary has taught media-focused courses on the adjunct faculties at George Mason University and American University and has guest-lectured at MIT, Harvard, UCLA, University of Southern California and Northwestern University and at countless media, marketing and technology industry events. As President of Arlen Communications LLC, he has provided analyses about the development of applications and services for entertainment, marketing and e-commerce.