New fees for V's, U's


Large-market VHF TV stations would pay an average 4% to 5% more in regulatory fees this year than in 2001 under a payment schedule proposed by the FCC. UHF stations in the same markets would see fees drop about 16%.

Despite the opposite directions of their obligations, both were helped by the greater-than-expected fee revenues last year, which reduce the size of the coffer that licensees in those groups must fill this year. UHF stations also were helped by 15 more licensees paying into the pool.

The FCC generally aims to increase the revenue generated in each licensee category proportionate to the agency-wide increase ordered by Congress—9.3% this year. Consequently, in categories in which there are relatively few licensees, an increase in the number of operators would decrease each station's payment.

Under the proposal, VHF stations in markets 1-10 and 11-25 would pay $47,050 and $34,700, respectively, while UHF stations in those markets would pay $12,800 and $10,300. In smaller markets, VHF duties also would rise and UHF fall.

For FCC licensees in all industries, the agency aims to collect $219 million from regulatory fees, up $18.6 million from 2001. Regulatory fees were ordered by Congress in 1994 to cover costs of overseeing the industry and managing spectrum.

Comments on this year's duties are due April 23, replies May 3.