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Annual FCC Regulatory Fees Due Sept. 24

The FCC has announced a Sept. 24 deadline for broadcasters to pay the commission’s annual regulatory fees. 

Scott Flick and Lauren Lynch Flick, attorneys with TAB’s FCC counsel Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, point out in a recent article from the firm’s CommLawCenter blog, that unlike the vast majority of federal agencies, the commission funds its operationsby passing the hat among those it regulates.”

The Flicks wryly note that the FCC then charges broadcasters a fee “to process each application to boot.”

That said, there is some welcome news in this year’s fee structure.

“Broadcasters’ fees will be nearly 10 percent less than originally proposed, with most broadcasters’ 2021 fees being the same or less than last year’s,” the Flicks said. 

As recently reported in the TAB Bulletin, the FCC’s shift in direction came in response to a united, months-long effort by industry advocacy groups including TAB, NAB and state broadcasters’ associations representing the remaining 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

The commission also launched a proceeding to consider expanding the universe of regulatory fee payors to include new types of entities, such as “unlicensed spectrum users, especially large technology companies.” 

The FCC’s move to reexamine not only its fee structure this year, but also who pays those fees in the future, is a major advocacy win for broadcasters.

“It provides not only short-term relief for broadcasters, but a path forward to making bigger fixes that will hopefully reduce the economic pain regulatory fees impose on broadcasters every year,” said Scott Flick.

Calculating Fees, Making Payment
The commission’s 2021 regulatory fee payment methods and procedures were outlined in a public notice released last week.

View notice

The FCC’s adopted 2021 regulatory fees were released in late August and may be found here.

Broadcasters can follow these two links to see how much they owe and how to timely pay their fees. 

The Flicks’ blog article also provides much useful information for broadcasters to assist them in the timely paying of their fees.

View article

It is important to pay the fees on time, as late or unpaid fees incur not only a significant 25 percent penalty, but also interest and other fees.

Per the FCC’s usual practice, those licensees owing de minimis regulatory fees of $1,000 or less, are exempt from paying them.

Questions? Contact TAB’s Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

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