The FCC has issued its order regarding regulatory fees for 2020. Unfortunately, the Commission rejected our arguments that the fees were too high and need to be recalculated due to the COVID 19 pandemic. It did however relax some of its procedural rules for obtaining a waiver. It is worth noting that the process for calculating regulatory fees is set by Congressional statute. Any significant change must come from Congress.
Payments must be received by 11:59 PM on September 25, 2020. For specific filing and payment information go to the FCC’s regulatory fee website HERE.
For TV, the FCC fully implemented a “population based” regulatory fee. Fees are now established by the number of people located within a station’s contour, as opposed to a DMA. The Commission stated:
“ We proposed the population-based methodology and began to phase it in because, on balance, it is more equitable and avoids the numerous problems associated with stations located at the edge of a DMA. Accordingly, we now adopt FY 2020 fees for full-power broadcast television stations based on the population covered by a full-power broadcast television station’s contour, as we proposed in the FY 2020 NPRM.
For radio, the FCC revised its methodology which increased the fees for radio. However, the FCC recognized that it miscalculated the number of radio stations subject to fees. By increasing the number of stations, it effectively lowered the fee for each individual station. The FCC stated:
“Use of this methodology results in net increases in the amount of regulatory fees assessed to radio broadcast categories compared to FY 2019. In continuing to review our unit numbers, however, we discovered a computational error and correct it here by increasing the number of units used in the calculation from 9,636 to 9,831 which results in lower fees than proposed in the FY 2020 NPRM.”
Consistent with our filing, the FCC relaxed some of its regulations regarding the process for filing waivers. The new provisions include:
- Simplifying the filing requirements for stations seeking relief with regard to regulatory fees by allowing such requests to be filed by email, and waiving its rule requiring that fee waiver requests and fee deferral requests be separately filed.
- Allowing requests for extended payment terms to be made by email and waiving its rules to permit such requests to be combined with fee waiver, reduction, and deferral requests in a single filing.
- Exercising the FCC’s discretion under the Debt Collection Improvement Act to reduce the interest rate charged by the FCC for installment payment plans to a “nominal” rate, and eliminating the current down payment requirement for those on an installment plan.
- Granting flexibility in how stations can demonstrate financial hardship for seeking fee relief.
- Waiving the FCC’s Red Light rule so that stations already owing money to the FCC aren’t be blocked from seeking regulatory fee relief.
Remember these fees are for this fiscal year, which includes that last quarter of 2019. Regulatory fees must be paid for all broadcast facility licenses granted on or before October 1, 2019. Regulatory fees must be paid for initial construction permits that were granted on or before October 1, 2019 for AM/FM radio stations, VHF/UHF broadcast television stations, and satellite television stations.
The highest amount that can be charged on a credit card for transactions with federal agencies is $24,999.99. Credit card transactions that are greater than $24,999.99 will be rejected. This limit applies to single payments or bundled payments of more than one bill. Stations that wish to pay an amount greater than $24,999.99 should consider available electronic alternatives such as Visa or MasterCard debit cards, ACH debits from a bank account, and wire transfers. Remember the FCC no longer accepts “paper checks” Complete instructions for making wire payments are posted HERE.
For procedures to file for a fee waiver based on COVID 19 click HERE.
To see FCC’s Public Notice regarding payment procedures click HERE.
The FCC has opened its “fee filer” web portal. For more information click HERE.
To see the full FCC’s Regulatory Fees decision click HERE.
To see the TV Fees based on population click HERE.
To see the fees for radio and other fees click HERE.
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