All Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licensees and permittees, including radio and television broadcasters, must pay their annual regulatory fees for fiscal year 2010 by Aug. 31, 2010. Licensees and permittees are responsible for paying the annual regulatory fees required for the authorizations they hold to the FCC in a timely fashion, or they will face additional penalties and the possibility of delays in the processing of pending applications. Failure to remit payment by 11:59 p.m. EDT on Aug. 31 will automatically trigger a 25 percent late fee.
Although the Commission began mailing reminder notifications to broadcast licensees and permittees nearly two weeks ago, the Commission has only recently updated its Fee Filer website to actually permit the payment of this year’s fees. As of Aug. 6, 2010, the FCC Fee Filer website contains the necessary information to allow payment of the 2010 regulatory fees. Accordingly, licensees and permittees may now log on to the Fee Filer website and remit their fees.
More information regarding the annual regulatory fees, including instructions for submitting the fees, is available from the Regulatory Fees page of the FCC’s website. The FCC also has a “lookup” database to allow stations to confirm the amount owed for their stations, which is available at FCC's Regulatory Fee Information Website. For those needing more detail, please see the Commission's full Order, which contains the 2010 fees for all types of licensees.
Consistent with the procedures adopted last year, all licensees are required to pay the annual regulatory fees online via the FCC’s Fee Filer website. In order to access the Fee Filer website and remit the regulatory fee payment, licensees must have a valid FCC registration number (FRN) and related password. Payment may be made electronically by credit card or debit card, or by check or money order. If a licensee prefers to remit payment by check or money order, the licensee must first use the FCC’s electronic Fee Filer system to create a Form 159-E voucher generated by the Fee Filer system. That Form 159-E voucher must then accompany the submission of payment by check or money order, which must be sent to the FCC’s receiving bank in St. Louis, Mo.
Although the regulatory fee covers the fiscal year Oct. 1, 2009, to Sept. 30, 2010, the current licensee of a broadcast station is the one responsible for the payment of the annual regulatory fee. Even if you just acquired a station, it is your responsibility to pay the 2010 regulatory fee for that station. Fees are based on the status of the station as of Oct. 1, 2009. So stations that have upgraded and received a license for new facilities since Oct. 1, 2009, will pay for the facility as it was licensed on Oct. 1, 2009. Similarly, new stations that were constructed and licensed after Oct. 1, 2009, pay only the fee for the construction permit that was in place as of Oct. 1, 2009.
In recent years, the FCC has aggressively enforced the regulatory fee filing requirement. A payment that is even one day late will automatically incur the 25 percent penalty. And if the fees and penalties remain unpaid after receipt of a late notice from the FCC, no applications for the licensee will be accepted or processed until the fees and penalties have been paid in full. That requirement has delayed the processing of innumerable applications in the last few years, and is something licensees should avoid.
Although the FCC has already mailed notices to many licensees setting forth how much each station owes, in the past not every station or licensee has received the notice, and not every notice has been accurate. The FCC places the obligation on the licensee to ensure that addresses in the Commission's database are accurate. If the mailing address is not accurate, or if the notice is not received for any reason, the FCC will not allow that as an excuse for a late payment. In addition, the FCC’s notices do not contain fee assessments for any broadcast auxiliary stations or earth stations, which the licensee must identify and include themselves. The bottom line is that licensees are responsible for paying their annual regulatory fees, whether or not any notice is received from the FCC.
Accordingly, licensees should submit their fees on time and make certain the payments are accurate. Be sure to keep a copy of all correspondence, electronic confirmations, and proof of payment when submitting the fees. We suggest that you take some extra time to ensure these fees are paid properly by Aug. 31, and that payment records are retained in order to avoid later problems.
For assistance with the 2010 FCC Regulatory Fees please contact any of the attorneys in Davis Wright Tremaine’s Broadcast Practice Group.
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