NCTA Says It's Time For Per-Sub Sat Fee

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The National Cable Television Association thinks it is paying more than its fair share in FCC regulatory fees, and wants the commission to make satellite operators assume more of the load.

The FCC last month sought comment on whether it should change the fee-collection process.

The FCC plans to collect $288,771,000 in regulatory fees from users including broadcasters and cable in 2006.

The commission is considering making DBS pay the same per-sub regulatory fee as cable. Satellite companies now pay a per-license fee.

The Cable industry asked for the same change in 2005 and the FCC declined to make it, saying "no change was warranted. Cable is trying again.

The FCC is now asking whether there is any reason why it should make the change now. "To the extent parties argue the regulatory fee assessment process should be changed," it says, "they should identify the legal basis that would justify a change and explain how the benefits of the proposed change outweigh the costs of the established assessment methodology," as well as identifying an FCC proceeding or change in law that would justify a change in the assessment mechanism.

NCTA argues that the latest regulatory fee raises its per-sub fee from 72 cents to 77 cents, or 7%, while the per-license fee for DBS will drop by 3.6%. "NCTA believes taht this disparity is unwarranted and that it is long past time for the Commission to rectify this imbalance" with a per-sub fee.

NCTA argues that since the industry has been dereguated, it takes up fewer commission resources, while DBS has faced increasing regulatory responsibilities.

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