FCC Proceeds with 2020 Regulatory Fees

(Image credit: FCC)

The FCC is not suspending its regulatory fee increase on broadcasters during the pandemic, as some broadcasters had asked.

The FCC's operations are funded by fees levied on regulated entities, including broadcaster, cable operators and satellite operators.

The commission Wednesday (May 13) voted to propose collecting $339 million in regulatory fees for 2020. That includes the fee increase for broadcasters continuing to increase the fee DBS operators pay to get it closer to that paid by cable MVPDs.

Satellite operators used to pay per-license, but the FCC several years ago migrated it to a per-sub fee, similar to cable, but starting low and ramping up the fee annually.

The FCC will also, for the first time, charge non-U.S. licensed space station operators with access to the U.S. market a license fee, as they do U.S. companies.

New Jersey broadcasters had asked the FCC to postpone the fee item rulemaking until "our nation’s societal way of life and economy have been fully restored" (which could be measured in years rather than months). They argued that some stations have seen their revenues "vaporized" in the past 30 days and suggested that an increased fee could be an existential threat in some cases.

The FCC did seek comment as part of the approved Notice of Proposed Rulemaking--which is not a final order--on how the FCC could help regulated entities hammered by the pandemic.

"I thank the Chairman for including questions in the FY2020 fee proposal to allow commenters to offer suggestions for mitigating the burden of regulatory fees during the pandemic, as many industries grapple with how to continue providing services while facing dramatically decreased revenue," said FCC commissioner Michael O'Rielly.

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.