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Spectrum License Fee Structure Proposed

(March 3, 2009) WASHINGTON: The proposed federal budget for 2009 includes spectrum license user fees that could target TV and radio broadcasters. The fees, tucked into preliminary budget submitted by the Obama Administration, comprise just one line and few details, other than a suggested graduating fee, beginning with $50 million this year and increasing to $550 million over 10 years.

The budget item does not specify broadcasters as the source of the fee revenue, but similar past proposals have done so. Such proposals have never made it past Congress, but they keep coming up.

The Obama-proposed fee structure is projected to raise is $50 million in 2010; $200 million in 2011; $300 million in 2012; $425 million in 2013 and $550 million each year from 2013 through 2019. The total levy would come to more than $4.8 billion in the 10-year period.

Another line item in the same table would give the FCC “permanent auction authority,” generating a projected $200 million annually beginning in 2013. A third item directing the FCC to “auction domestic satellite spectrum” posits a take of $100 million, $75 million and $25 million in 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively.