WASHINGTON—The push for the FCC to eliminate regulatory fee increases for broadcast licenses in 2020 has some bipartisan support, as House Representatives Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.) and Chris Stewart (R-Utah) sent a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to halt increases due to COVID-19.
The FCC has stated that it will collect $339 million in regulatory fees from broadcast licensees for Fiscal Year 2020, which would result in many broadcasters facing increased regulatory fees.
Kuster and Stewart plead that the commission halt any increases to annual regulatory fees for broadcasters because of the financial impact that broadcasters have felt as a result of the coronavirus pandemic while still providing critical services to communities. This would require no action from Congress, the pair says.
“The FCC can take meaningful, positive action by halting the increase in regulatory fees on local broadcasters who continue to support and inform their communities during this challenging time,” the letter reads.
The NAB also recently commented on the FCC’s stance regarding regulatory fees, calling it “unfair and unlawful.”
The letter also notes that since broadcasters are likely still going to be dealing with the financial impact, including the loss of advertising revenue, when regulatory fees are due in September, Kuster and Stewart ask that the FCC notify Congress of any statutory change necessary to allow payment of regulatory fees after Sept. 30.
Congress has been a big support of broadcasters during the pandemic. Bipartisan coalitions have called for and passed multiple bills that have provided funds and small business aid to local broadcasters.
The full letter from Kuster and Stewart is available online.
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