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TAB to FCC: 10% fee hike unwarranted

TAB filed joint comments with the FCC opposing the almost 10% increase in Fiscal Year 2009 annual regulatory fees.

The June 4 filing, in which 46 state broadcast associations participated, notes the increase is not only 100 times the rate of inflation, but also comes on the heels of a seven percent hike the previous fiscal year.

The associations urge the FCC to reduce the fees retroactively and prospectively.

The associations also point out that the FCC is making a profit on annual fees (used to reimburse the FCC for its operations) by charging separate application fees for processing work performed by the same employees whose salaries and benefits are reimbursed by the annual regulatory fees.

"This fee hike is particularly unwarranted considering the extreme economic distress stations are experiencing," said TAB President Ann Arnold.

"Broadcasters are laying off employees, implementing furloughs and shuttering some operations because of double-digit percentage declines in ad revenues.

"While we realize the FCC is obligated to collect regulatory fees to fund the commission's operations and that the increase was ordered by Congress, the federal government should be mindful that the nearly 10% increase is substantially more than even the rate of inflation.

"Government needs to keep its own expenses in check, just as our highly-regulated industry already is doing," Arnold said.

The filing also urges the FCC to grant fee payment waivers for any station that can show:

1) Revenues are down substantially and employee layoffs and furloughs have been implemented,

2) Loan covenants have been broken or the station is otherwise in default under its financing, or

3) The station is on the brink of foreclosure or bankruptcy.

TAB's federal legal counsel, Richard Zaragoza with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, prepared the filing.

PDF View the full filing

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