TV's FCC Bill Goes Up

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The 2005 bill each TV station will pay for the privilege of being regulated by the Federal Communications Commission will climb at rates well in excess of those paid by other agency licensees.

Most stations would see their regulatory fees climb between 7% and 14%, according to rates proposed by the FCC. Cable operators, cell phone operators and other telecom businesses, however, would see hikes of just 2.6%.

Why the disparity?

Fewer stations will be paying fees this year than last. At the same time, the FCC is requiring the total dollar amount raised by each industry to increase at an across-the-board 2.6% rate. Consequently, TV stations and other sectors with a declining number of paying licensees will all have to pitch in more.

Of course the number of TV stations isn’t going down, but the FCC has been culling its database of TV stations in order to eliminate those exempt from fees. Stations can be exempted due to financial hardship or for other reasons.

Under the FCC proposed rates, for instance, the 61 VHF stations in markets sized 11-25 would pay $44,675 per station, up 7.2% from 2004.

During that time the number of stations in the category dropped by three. In total, the number of paying stations nationwide declined by 61.

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