07.19.2012 02:59 PM
FCC seeks comment on proposed changes to allocation of regulatory fees
Change is needed because changes in the industry landscape require the agency to allocate personnel time differently than in 1998 when the current allocation was established.


 The Federal Communications Commission is looking for comments on proposed reforms to the way it assesses and collects regulatory fees from a variety of licensees, including broadcasters.

The agency adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking July 13 seeking comment on proposed changes to how it should allocate the fees.

• The FCC has identified several areas in which it wants comments, including:
The goals of the regulatory fee program. The agency proposes fairness, administrability and sustainability as its goals and wants commenters to propose others.

• A change in how the agency allocates full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) for the purpose of calculating regulatory fees. The FCC proposes allocating all FTEs in the Wireless Telecommunications, Media, Wireline Competition and International Bureau as “Direct” and all FTEs in support bureaus and offices as “indirect.”

• How to make revisions to existing cost allocation percentages based on the proposed change to FTE allocations.

According to the FCC, the changes are needed because of the evolution of the communications industry since 1998 has changed how much time the agency devotes to specific industry segments. Continuing to use the FTE data collected in 1998 may not accurately reflect the allocation of FCC employee time.

A statement released with the NPRM from FCC commissioner Ajit Pai acknowledged the shifting communications landscape since 1998 and pointed to the need to keep pace with the changes. “Fourteen years have passed since the Commission last realigned its regulatory fees to reflect changes in the communications marketplace. Needless to say, there have been many more changes since then,” the Pai statement said.

“In 1998, each industry segment largely still played in its own sandbox — telephone companies offered telephone service, cable operators offered cable television, and so on. But today’s currency is convergence: Telephone companies have entered the video market, cable operators are winning voice customers, satellite operators offer competitive radio, television, and broadband services, and wireless providers have unleashed a mobile revolution few if any saw coming.”

Commenters must file their remarks within 30 days of publication of the NPRM in the Federal Register. Reply comments are due 60 days after publication.

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