NYSBA Files to Change FCC Reg Fees

The New York State Broadcasters Association, along with the other state broadcast associations, recently filed comments with the FCC regarding the need to change how it calculates regulatory fees. The FCC opened a proceeding to address concerns about how it calculates regulatory fees. In the comments we noted the following:

“The current fee process results in a fee schedule that reflect the actual work performed by only a quarter of the Commission’s employees. Extrapolating the proportion of FTEs in the core bureaus to the indirect FTEs in the remaining 75% of the Commission produces a system in which fees are apportioned with no regard for the actual work performed by indirect FTEs, or whether fee payors receive any benefits from such work. As a result, broadcasters are assessed an outsized share of the costs associated with indirect FTEs simply because they are regulated by the Media Bureau, which happens to house the largest number of FTEs among the four core bureaus.

A fee assessment process that requires broadcasters to pay for a substantial portion of Commission activities that have nothing to do with broadcasters is also fundamentally unsustainable. We have previously noted that broadcasters account for only 0.07% of the allocated spectrum, yet shoulder more than 16 percent of the costs of the Commission’s operations. Moreover, the number of broadcasters on whom the Commission can impose the fees is declining. As a result, the burden of paying the fees increases for all remaining broadcasters, since the Commission’s claimed costs to regulate broadcasting has remained level or increased even though there are fewer broadcasters to regulate. Ultimately, as more stations cease operations, the fees assessed to broadcasters will become so unsustainable that there will be few (or none) left to pay them.”

State Associations have coordinated with NAB to address this problem. We have a long way to go in this process. It must also be remembered that the FCC’s regulatory fees are based on a Congressional statute. Thus, the FCC does not have complete discretion to simply change all of its fees. Nonetheless, we believe it can make changes that will attenuate the unjustified increase in fees that have been imposed in the past.

You can see our complete filing here.