FCC 375

The cost of doing business with the Federal Communications Commission is going up. Under federal law the FCC is required to assess the fees it charges for various applications every two years to take into account inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index. After completing its analysis, the agency has adopted an across the board 3.7% increase in all applications fees. In what seems as much an apology to license holders as it is an explanation, the Commission writes in a brief order that the methodology and timing are prescribed by federal law and that the statute “leaves us no discretion and comment is unnecessary.”

In practical terms the rate hike means that for commercial stations a new or major change construction permit filing fee will rise to $3,975 for FMs and $4,415 for AMs. Minor change applications will cost $1,110 for both AMs and FMs. Most other fees are also identical regardless of which band the station is on. An application for a new license will cost $725. Main studio waiver requests will cost $1,110. License renewal applications will carry a $200 fee. And filing to sell a station will cost $1,110. Call sign changes will run $110; while applications for Special Temporary Authority will cost $200.

The fees related to FM translators are also going up. A construction permit application filing fee increases to $835. License renewals will cost $70. And applications to sell a translator will carry a $160 filing fee. See a list of all the newly-revised radio and TV fees HERE.

Annual Fees May Drop

Even as application filing fees are increasing due to inflationary pressures, the Commission has proposed a 9% decrease in annual regulatory fees paid by all of the license holders it regulates for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. The FCC needs to collect $322,035,000 from broadcasters and other industries to cover its expenses. But as Inside Radio reported in May, less of the burden will likely be on radio and television.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (MD Docket No. 18-175) has proposed cutting radio’s share of the total by 13% compared to what stations paid last fall. The outline says nearly every class of FM and AM would see its annual fee reduced. The budget also proposes maintaining a full-time payroll at 1,448 employees, which the FCC has said will allow for a “lean, accountable, more efficient” agency. The comment period for that Notice closed last Friday and the Commission is expected to finalize its annual fee proposal in the coming weeks.