Once Again, Spectrum Fees in Federal Budget

Under the fiscal 2006 budget released Monday by the Bush Administration, TV stations that have not returned their analog channels would pay a combined total of up to $500 million in 2007 and again in 2008.

No fees would be due in 2006.

The fee would drop to $480 million in 2009 and to $450 million in 2010. Specifics of how the fee obligations would be spread among individual stations were not spelled out.

Since the Clinton Administration, White House budgets have contained some form of spectrum fee to compensate
taxpayers for the right to broadcast on stations obtained for free. Lobbyists for the National Association of Broadcasters have always managed to eliminate the fees by the time Congress actually passed a spending bill.

“For more than a decade, Congress has wisely rejected spectrum taxes on broadcasters,” NAB said in a statement. “Lawmakers recognized [that] the timetable for transitioning to digital television will be determined by consumer acceptance of this new technology and not by arbitrary, budget-driven timelines.