NAB: Broadcasters Shouldn't Be Charged for Better Broadband Maps

(Image credit: NAB)

Broadcasters are telling the FCC it makes no sense to charge them a portion of the expense for the FCC's congressionally mandated effort to collect better broadband coverage data.

In meetings with the Office of the FCC managing director, according to FCC documents, executives from the National Association of Broadcasters took issue with the way the FCC has structured its proposed 2021 annual regulatory fees, charged to FCC licensees to cover the cost of regulating them--the FCC pays for its operations via those fees.

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NAB is concerned generally with what it says was the third year in a row of "steep" fee increases for broadcasters, "many of whom continued to see revenues decline in FY 2021 due to the economic impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic."

But it said the FCC's latest proposed fee increases are even more problematic, citing the "inexplicable" requirement that broadcasters pay part of the $33 million Congress appropriated to pay for the Broadband Data Act, which Congress passed to goose the FCC's effort to collect better data on where broadband service is and isn't.

"Requiring broadcasters to pay for such costs is unlawful and makes no sense when the Broadband DATA Act neither regulates nor benefits broadcasters and the Media Bureau does not appear to be involved in any of the Commission’s rulemaking proceedings implementing its requirements," NAB execs told the FCC staffers.

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NAB also was not happy that the wireless industry, which has been going gangbusters during the pandemic, is paying a smaller percentage of regulatory fees this fiscal year due to some "questionable" moves by the FCC.

In the past, the FCC has called the FCC’s regulatory-fee process a “frustrating and impenetrable exercise.”

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.