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TAB Pushes Back on FCC’s Soaring Regulatory Fees

- Big Tech Freeloads as Station Fees Skyrocket

TAB once again is pushing back on the FCC’s proposed regulatory fees for broadcasters which continue to soar while tech giants like Microsoft and others skate free despite benefiting immensely from the federal agency’s decision-making.

In comments filed with the FCC last week and prepared by TAB’s FCC legal counsel, Scott Flick with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, we argue that the commission’s proposed fee structure does not comply with the Ray Baum’s Act of 2018 as indicated by a recent federal court ruling in Telesat Canada v. Federal Communications Commission

That ruling held that the “touchstone” for charging a party FCC regulatory fees is the benefit received by the party from the FCC’s operations, and that Congress empowered (and required) the FCC to collect such fees from all parties receiving such benefits, not just those that hold FCC licenses. 

The comments argued that the FCC therefore cannot justify the substantial increase in regulatory fees proposed for broadcasters in 2021, and must revamp the process by which it establishes who pays regulatory fees and how much, spreading the burden of funding the operations of the FCC across all parties benefiting from its operations, including technology and other companies that benefit from the FCC’s efforts to make unlicensed spectrum available while only increasing interference to broadcasters. 

Finally, the Joint Reply Comments argued that the Commission should not adopt a less precise “tiered” approach for setting television station regulatory fees, and that since Congress exempted noncommercial broadcasters from the payment of regulatory fees entirely, the costs of such regulation should be treated as FCC “overhead,” the cost of which is spread across all regulatory fee payors, rather than being placed on commercial broadcasters in the form of higher broadcast regulatory fees.

TAB filed the comments in combination with state broadcast associations of 48 other states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

FCC Regulatory Fee Filing

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

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