• Proposed 2008 Annual FCC Regulatory Fees
  • May 16, 2008 | Author: Peter Gutmann
  • Law Firm: Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice - Washington Office
  • The FCC has issued a public notice seeking comment on the annual regulatory fees to be collected for Fiscal Year 2008. Comments are due May 30 and replies June 6. In keeping with  past years, it is highly likely that the proposal will be adopted without change.

    Although the fees are to increase, the Commission contemplates no revision in its methodology for calculating the fees nor its administration of the collection program. The only possible change for broadcasters is a proposal to begin collecting regulatory fees for expanded band AM stations, which have been entirely exempt so far in order to help encourage migration. In that regard, the Commission questions whether separate fees should now be imposed upon licensees that continue to operate both standard and expanded band facilities, and whether the exemption should be extended for licensees that have surrendered their standard band authorization.

    We attach a set of tables (see PDF link of this memo) that compare the proposed 2008 regulatory fees to those assessed in 2007. The increases range up to 12 percent for certain AM classifications, with the rise for FM and TV generally lower. The fee for auxiliary facilities would remain unchanged. Although the current licensee will be responsible for payment, fees are to be assessed based upon authorizations held on October 1, 2007.

    Similar to last year, the Commission will post details of payment procedures on its website. It also will mail a postcard for each station to the licensee’s contact address in the Commission's database. Presumably, the postcards still will not include auxiliary facilities (studio-transmitter links, remote pick-ups and the like), which licensees will need to identify and for each of which a separate $10 fee will need to be paid. A failure to pay any regulatory fee will subject a licensee to the Commission's "red light" procedures which preclude action on all pending applications, including license assignments and facilities changes.

    Fees are to be paid either by mail or through the Commission's online electronic Fee Filer. To avoid a 25% late penalty, all fees will have to be received by midnight of a deadline to be announced. The Commission reminds payors of its new lock box bank for mailed fees (in St. Louis rather than Pittsburgh), as well as its new receiving bank for wire transfers (the Federal Reserve Bank in New York).

    This memorandum is provided for general information purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. We will keep you advised of further details concerning the payment of 2008 regulatory fees. In the meantime, it seems reasonable to calculate your fees based upon the assumptions, consistent with past years, that the Commission will adopt its proposal (once it decides how to treat AM expanded band licensees) and that payments will be due in late Summer.