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FCC ProposesUnified Fee Theory

The Federal Communications Commission is considering charging the same regulatory fees to UHF television stations as it does to VHFs, and, for the first time, would charge a regulatory fee to over-the-top providers. The fees for VHF stations would be reduced, while those for UHFs would increase.

The single TV fee would take effect this year, while over-the-top providers would not have to pony up until fiscal year 2014.

The commission released a notice of proposed rulemaking suggesting a number of fixes to the annual fee-collecting mechanism. The FCC covers its expenses for regulating out of the fees it collects from those being regulated and based on how much time each full-time employee of a commission bureau—media, wireless, wire-line or international—devotes to each service.

The FCC is also suggesting that direct-broadcast satellite operators be assessed a persubscriber fee, the same as cable operators, rather than a per-geo stationary orbit fee. The American Cable Association, for one, has asked the FCC to apply the same standard to satellite and cable MVPDs.