By: David Oxenford, Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP
The Media Bureau (9/8) issued its Fact Sheet for the Annual Regulatory Fees for 2020 – expanding on the information available in the various public notices released last week, about which we wrote here. This Fact Sheet sets out the general information as to how much is owed by various classes of broadcast stations. The actual fees owed by each station can be determined by entering the station’s call letter or Facility ID Number in the appropriate box on this FCC webpage. Contact the FCC if you believe that your fee assessment is incorrect.
In addition to the exemption from fees for any entity whose total regulatory obligation is less than $1000, the Fact Sheet also makes clear that FM translators, TV translators and LPTV stations that were not licensed as of October 1, 2019 need not pay a fee. If, for instance, you received a construction permit for a new FM translator that was not built and licensed until January 2020, then no fee is due. Caution, however, if that station had previously been licensed at a different location (or for LPTV or TV translators, on a different channel), and your construction permit just authorizes a change in an already licensed facility, fees do need to be paid. Similarly, if a station was licensed on October 1, 2019 and has since been surrendered or cancelled, a fee is still theoretically due.
The amount of the payment due for all stations is based on that station’s licensed facilities as of October 1, 2019 (though, for full-power stations, there are fees for those who hold a construction permit for a new station even if that station has never been licensed). For full-power stations that received and implemented a power increase after October 1, 2019, fees will still be assessed at the population coverage in 2019 – not the actual service now. A higher fee will be paid next year, likely in September 2021, based on the status of the station as of October 1 of this year.
So review all of these documents, and prepare your fees for filing by the September 25 deadline (or, for those stations whose service to the public would be imperiled by paying the fee, seek a waiver or deferral of the fees, or an installment payment plan, as explained in another FCC Public notice that we highlighted in our post September 8).
David Oxenford is MAB’s Washington Legal Counsel and provides members with answers to their legal questions with the MAB Legal Hotline. Access information here. (Members only access).
There are no additional costs for the call; the advice is free as part of your MAB membership.