NAB Cheers FCC Proposal to Raise Fee Exemption

Points out smaller stations can't pass them on as line items
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The National Association of Broadcasters told the FCC it agrees with its proposal to raise the threshold for exemption from regulatory fees from $500 to $1,000.

The FCC is self-sustaining, paying for itself via the fees it charges regulated entities based on the number of full-time employees it allocates toward that regulatory category—broadcasting, MVPDs and satellite.

The fees are also based on market size, with the smallest markets paying the least.

The FCC has also had an exemption for anyone whose fees were less than $500 annually, the argument being that the cost of collecting that small an amount ($350 plus general overhead) was not worth it, plus it is a way to help the smallest stations for whom every dollar counts.

The FCC has proposed to raise that de minimis fee exemption to $1,000, and NAB, not surprisingly, is all for it.

In comments filed this week on the proposal, NAB said that "given that the Commission’s costs of collecting small payments 'likely outweigh the benefits of such payments,' NAB endorses the reasonableness of saving these expenses. More importantly, the financial impact of regulatory fees on broadcasters can be substantial, particularly radio and television stations in small and rural markets."

It also points out that, unlike MVPDs, broadcasters cannot pass along regulatory costs to its viewers "as a line item on consumer bills."

The American Cable Association agreed with NAB about the exemption, also saying in its comments that the FCC should exempt fees below $1,000. "This is a fair approach for entities who are often disproportionately burdened by regulations and regulatory fees, particularly when these entities also use the fewest administrative resources among those in a fee category," ACA said.