The FCC has released its annual Report and Order showing the regulatory fees due for the 2023 fiscal year. Fees must be paid by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Sept. 20. The FCC's CORES payment module is accepting fee payments now. See FCC Public Notice.
As in past years, the FCC will not be mailing out notices of fees due. It is up to each licensee, permittee, cable operator, telecom or VoIP provider, or other regulatee to log in to the CORES payment module and ensure that these fees are timely paid. Fees paid even one day late will be subject to a 25% penalty plus administrative processing charges, so timely payment is critical. Pursuant to the Commission's "red light" policy, parties that fail to pay their regulatory fees in full will not be able to obtain FCC action on any subsequently filed applications or receive disbursements from the federal universal service programs such as E-rate until all fees and penalties are paid. However, due to lingering effects from the COVID pandemic, the FCC will consider fee waivers, reductions, deferral and/or installment payments of regulatory fees upon a request documenting financial hardship. Requests for a fee waiver, reduction, or deferral of regulatory fees must be submitted to the FCC on or before the Sept. 20 regulatory fee payment deadline, and are subject to requirements detailed in the FCC Rules. See FCC Public Notice.
Regulatory fees can only be paid by wire, Pay.gov, online ACH payment, debit card (Visa/MasterCard), or online credit card, and all payers will need a CORES Username account, an FCC Registration Number (FRN), and a completed "Fee Filer Form" 159-E prior to filing. The FCC no longer accepts checks or paper filings. Also, credit card payments (whether made via one or more credit cards) are limited to $24,999.99 per day, although debit card payments have no such limit. See FCC Public Notice for additional payment details.
How Fees Are Calculated
By statute, the FCC is required to collect regulatory fees covering all of the agency's salaries and expenses. This is done by allocating the FCC's budget among its full-time employees, referred to as "Full-Time Equivalents" or "FTEs." The regulatory fees for all the services that are regulated by a particular Bureau must cover 100% of the costs of that Bureau's FTEs plus a proportion of the costs of FTEs not allocated to a particular service, such as the General Counsel's Office, Administrative Law Judges, and Enforcement Bureau. For example, broadcasters and cable operators must pay regulatory fees contributing to the cost of all FTEs who work in the FCC's Media Bureau plus a percentage of the costs of those FTEs who work on general matters. For this year's regulatory fees, the FCC has reallocated some of the non-service specific FTEs to the services for which they do the most work.
For most services, fees are based on FCC licenses and permits held as of October 1, 2022 (the first day of the FCC's 2023 fiscal year), although cable TV rates are based on the number of basic subscribers as of "a typical day in the last full week" of December 2022, rather than on a subscriber count as of December 31, 2022, which subscriber count is applicable to DBS and Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) providers. The interstate telecommunications service provider/VoIP fees are based on the 2022 revenues reported on the provider's 2023 FCC Form 499-A. Noncommercial stations and all nonprofit entities are exempt from paying regulatory fees, see here.
Significant Changes This Year
The FCC has adopted a revised radio station regulatory fee table that includes a lower population tier for AM and FM broadcasters. Specifically, the FCC is separating the previous years' tier of less than 25,000 population into two tiers – the first tier is for areas with a population of up to 10,000 and the second tier will be for areas with a population of 10,001 – 25,000. The remaining population tier thresholds are the same as in prior years.
For TV stations, the FCC has adopted a population fee factor of approximately .78 of one cent ($.007799 to be precise) for each person within a station's projected noise-limited service contour for the 2023 fiscal year.
This year, the FCC has again increased the regulatory fee for DBS providers from $1.16 per subscriber to $1.23 per subscriber, and has also increased the cable TV rate from $1.16 per subscriber to $1.23 per subscriber. The FCC is maintaining its existing bulk rate calculation for multiple dwelling unit subscribers.
The FCC is also keeping the de minimis threshold for regulatory fees at $1,000.00, meaning that any person or entity that owes a total of $1,000.00 or less for all licenses held is exempt from having to pay regulatory fees. See FCC Public Notice. For example, if an entity holds three licenses, the regulatory fees for each of which would be $500.00 and the total would be $1,500.00, the entity would not be exempt. As has been the case for several years now, broadcast auxiliary licenses are totally exempt from regulatory fees.
Although a summary of fees is shown below, the FCC website contains links to more information about the fees owed, including fees for services not listed below. See additional FCC Fact Sheets here, here, here, here, and here. As mentioned above, relief or deferral of regulatory fee payments may be available due to the ongoing economic effects of the pandemic. If you are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic, please contact us immediately about the possibility of seeking a fee waiver, deferral, or other potential relief.
- AM and FM Radio
Digital Television, VHF, and UHF Commercial
The FCC is calculating FY 2023 regulatory fees using a population-based fee for each full-power broadcast television station, including each satellite station. See here at Appendix G, pgs. 73-130.
Fee Category Annual Regulatory Fee Digital TV (47 CFR part 73), VHF, and UHF Commercial Construction Permits $5,100
LPTV, Class A, TV/FM Translators, & Boosters: $260 per license (2022 = $330)
Broadband Radio (MDS/MMDS), & LMDS: $700 per call sign (2022 = $590)
|Population Served||AM Class A||AM Class B||AM Class C||AM Class D||FM Classes A, B1, & C3||FM Classes B, C, C0, C1, & C2|
|10,001 - 25,000||$990||$715||$620||$680||$1,085||$1,240|
|25,001 – 75,000||$1,485||$1,075||$930||$1,020||$1,630||$1,860|
|75,001 – 150,000||$2,230||$1,610||$1,395||$1,530||$2,440||$2,790|
|150,001 – 500,000||$3,345||$2,415||$2,095||$2,300||$3,665||$4,190|
|500,001 – 1,200,000||$5,010||$3,620||$3,135||$3,440||$5,490||$6,275|
|1,200,001 – 3,000,000||$7,525||$5,435||$4,710||$5,170||$8,245||$9,425|
|3,000,001 – 6,000,000||$11,275||$8,145||$7,060||$7,745||$12,360||$14,125|
|AM Construction Permits||$620|
|FM Construction Permits||$1,085|
- Cable Television Systems (including IPTV): $1.23 per subscriber (2022 = $1.16)
- Cable Antenna Relay Service (CARS): $1,720 (2022 = $1,715)
- Direct Broadcast Service (DBS): $1.23 per subscriber (2022 = $1.16)
- CMRS Mobile/Cellular Services: 16¢ per unit (2022 = 14¢)
- CMRS Messaging Services: 8¢ per unit (unchanged)
- Microwave (includes Domestic Public Fixed Radio): Microwave licensees must pay a $25 annual regulatory fee per year, payable for an entire ten-year license term at the time of application for a new, renewal or reinstatement license. The total regulatory fee due is $250 for the ten-year license term. (unchanged)
Telecommunications Service Providers
- Interstate Telecommunications Services: $0.00540 per revenue dollar (Based on revenue reported on 499-A) (2022 = $0.00452 per revenue dollar)
These fees are assessed on interconnected VoIP services, as well as traditional services such as local exchange, interexchange (long distance) and resold services.
- Earth Stations: $575 (per authorization or registration) (2022 = $620)
(No fee for receive-only earth stations)
If you have any questions or if you desire any assistance in connection with the regulatory fee filing process, please contact Burt Braverman, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Sharon Mathis, Broadcast Paralegal, at email@example.com.
*David Silverman is a contract attorney and former partner of DWT. Sharon Mathis, Broadcast Paralegal, also contributed to this post.
This advisory is a publication of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. Our purpose in publishing this advisory is to inform our clients and friends of recent legal developments. It is not intended, nor should it be used, as a substitute for specific legal advice as legal counsel may only be given in response to inquiries regarding particular situations.