Phil Kurz /
07.14.2010
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Find the checkbook; FCC assesses regulatory fees for FY 2010

Television broadcasters be warned: The FCC has tallied up your fiscal year 2010 regulatory fee, and expects you to pay up next month.

The fee schedule, adopted July 8 and released the next day, shows the sum broadcasters will pay depends on several factors, including band — VHF vs. UHF, market size and power level — full power vs. LPTV, translators and repeaters.

At the high end of the TV broadcast scale are VHF stations in the top 10 markets, which will be assessed a regulatory fee of $81,550. At the low end are LPTV, Class A TV, TV/FM translators and boosters, which will be charged $415 for 2010. (See table for details.)

The commission’s Report & Order is based on the Congressional mandate to the agency to collect nearly $336 million in regulatory fees for fiscal 2010, down 1.8 percent from the fiscal 2009 level. Using its own set of rules, the commission proportionately assigns a portion of the total to a diverse group of spectrum users, ranging from interstate telecommunications service providers to commercial mobile radio messaging services, radio broadcasters to full- and low-power TV broadcasters.

In its Report & Order, the commission acknowledged that with the completion of the DTV transition, 38 percent of VHF stations have moved to the UHF band, impacting how fees are assessed. “In many of the Nielsen Designated Market Areas (DMA), the number of VHF stations decreased almost 50 percent, and this in turn will increase the regulatory fee for these categories twofold,” the Report & Order said.

“While this potential fee escalation underscores the need for more fundamental, long-term reform of our regulatory fee process, it is imperative that we take steps under our current fee structure to mitigate the impact of this shift on television stations still operating on VHF channels and, at the same time, take at least a partial step toward more fairly apportioning fees across all television markets,” it said.

Historically, VHF channels were more highly prized than UHF channels. However, with the conversion from analog to digital television transmission, many VHF channels encountered unanticipated reception problems and have chosen to move to a UHF channel assignment, thus creating the fee distortion. The Report & Order said the FCC intends to collect the fees in August.

Fiscal Year 2010

Fee Category

Annual Regulatory Fee
(U.S. $'s)

TV (47 CFR part 73) VHF Commercial

Markets 1-10

81,550

Markets 11-25

63,275

Markets 26-50

42,550

Markets 51-100

23,750

Remaining Markets

6,125

Construction Permits

6,125

TV (47 CFR part 73) UHF Commercial

Markets 1-10

32,275

Markets 11-25

30,075

Markets 26-50

18,900

Markets 51-100

11,550

Remaining Markets

3,050

Construction Permits

3,050

Low Power TV, Class A TV, TV/FM Translators & Boosters (47 CFR part 74)

415



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