NAB: FCC Needs Bigger Regulatory Fee Tent

(Image credit: NAB)

The National Association of Broadcasters said the Federal Communications Commission should start imposing regulatory fees on businesses that benefit indirectly from its activities, particularly internet service providers — regulation of which is taking up a lot of the agency’s resources.

The FCC supports itself entirely from fees levied on its licensees, including broadcasters, cable providers and satellite services. The NAB, whose constituency includes owners of broadcast TV stations, has been telling the FCC — and anyone else within earshot — that it’s time for that to change. 

Congress directed the FCC to collect fees from those who benefit from its services, and the NAB said that should include those who benefit indirectly.

Also: NAB Says Court Decision Means FCC Is Free To Charge Fees to Big Tech

The NAB‘s most recent pitch came in comments to the FCC this week on its 2022 regulatory fees and the agency‘s own inquiry into whether it should, indeed, reach beyond the usual fee-payers to others.

“Broadcasters’ fees are skyrocketing to unsustainable levels because of a fee methodology that both fails to perform any analysis of the benefits provided to industries by 75% of the Commission and is inconsistently applied, and the Commission’s willingness to force broadcasters to subsidize other companies by paying for broadband-related activities that the Commission acknowledges do not provide any benefits to broadcasters,” the NAB said. “Broadcasters should not be penalized because the Commission’s fee methodology has not kept pace with market changes and technological convergence in other industries.”

It is past time for the FCC to add an ISP fee category, and to consider adding one for edge providers such as Google, Netflix and Amazon as well, the NAB said.

The FCC is also considering whether to add Big Tech to those who have to pay into the Universal Service Fund subsidies for broadband buildouts. ■

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.