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Broadcasters Gain Support in Fight Over FCC Fee Hikes

- Six Texas Members of Congress Join Plea to Chair

Broadcasters’ pushback against the Federal Communications Commission’s plan to increase regulatory fees by an astonishing 13 percent is gaining support in Congress as 94 House members – including six Texans – are pressing FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel to justify the hike.

In an Aug. 12 letter to the chair initiated by Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minnesota, the lawmakers ask for an explanation of the additional benefits broadcasters will receive in exchange for such a high fee increase and whether the commission has considered the inability of many broadcasters to pass along costs to their audiences.

The lawmakers also pointedly ask why the increase for broadcasters far exceeds fee increases for any other industry – especially when some regulated industries’ fees are going down – and note that the 13% fee increase for Radio and TV stations is highly disproportionate to the FCC’s overall two percent budget increase.

A bipartisan group of Texas lawmakers signed on to Emmer’s letter, including:

  • Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo
  • Rep. Jake Ellzey, R-Waxahachie
  • Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock
  • Rep. Chip Roy, R-Wimberley
  • Rep. Randy Weber, R-Alvin
  • Rep. Roger Williams, R-Weatherford

TAB noted in its outreach to the Texas congressional delegation that the FCC performs a significant amount of work for Big Tech companies and other unlicensed spectrum users that pay no regulatory fees to the commission.

The planned hike rubs salt in the wound of Radio and TV stations that are increasingly challenged to fund their local journalism because of unfair competition in the advertising market from Google/Alphabet, Facebook/Meta and other Big Tech companies.

Federal legislation known as the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act which is intended to address the imbalance remains pending.

The FCC will likely act on the final regulatory fee structure in late August or early September.

Questions? Contact TAB’s Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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