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FCC Releases Proposed 2018 Regulatory Fees

There was a bright spot in last week’s FCC release of the 2018 Regulatory Fee Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM).  The NPRM is the proceeding that starts the discussion and formal adoption of the FCC’s annual regulatory fees that are assessed to broadcast licensees.  Typically, not much if any, changes from the original fee structure proposed in each year’s rulemaking.  About the only drama that occurs is the anticipation of the FCC’s announcement of the annual regulatory fee due date.

It is TAB’s observation that the due date notice, which has been in September in recent years, gets later and closer to the actual due date with each passing year.  In other words, stations aren’t getting as much time to act as they used to.  TAB will notify stations when this year’s due date is announced.

In the meantime, there is some good news for broadcasters hiding in the lengthy NPRM.  Attorneys at TAB Associate member law firm Fletcher Heald and Hildreth said for the most part, the specific fees proposed for 2018 represent decreases from the amounts due in 2017.  “Fee reductions may be particularly noticeable for large-market television stations, which could save as much as about 15 percent from last year’s fees,” said the Fletcher Heald Hildreth staff.

Fletcher Heald Hildreth notes the NPRM seeks comment on some new proposed changes to how fees will be calculated for various services in the future.  Of note to television broadcasters, the FCC is proposing a new methodology for television broadcast regulatory fees for FY 2019.  The Fletcher Heald Hildreth staff said the FCC is proposing “calculating regulatory fees based on the actual population covered by a station’s predicted over-the-air contour rather than using the Nielsen Designated Market Areas (DMA) to define a station’s market.”  That could mean a significant change in fees for some TV stations.

“The FCC seeks comment on this proposal generally, and in particular on whether regulatory fees should be calculated based on the specific population covered by each station or if stations should be grouped into tiers based on population, as is currently the case for broadcast radio stations,” said the Fletcher Heald Hildreth staff.

Television stations can review the proposal and the listing of the FCC’s determination of the population served by every full-power station.  It is attached as an Appendix to the NPRM itself and can be seen here.  You can review the Fletcher Heald Hildreth analysis of this year’s annual regulatory Fee NPRM as well as the table of proposed fees on FHH’s

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

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