Regulatory fee order keeps broadcast and broadband funding separate.

When the proposed FCC fiscal year 2021 fee schedule was released, broadcasters were up in arms about the sizable increase in broadcast fees which, it turned out, would subsidize Commission expenses related to broadband regulation. In the final Report and Order officially setting the fees, however, the Commission has backed down. While other Media Bureau-governed media, like cable and DBS, will in fact be contributing to the broadband burden, broadcasters are off the hook. The Commission characterized its decision as “fair, sustainable, and administrable because the amounts involved are one-time, large and explicitly quantified by Congress, and because of the unusual position of broadcasters vis-à-vis other Commission regulatees in this instance.” The agency did find fault with the argument of state broadcasters associations that broadcasters should not have to cover the regulatory fees of exempt noncommercial stations, saying that Congress itself specifically exempted the noncoms. Speaking on behalf of the NAB, Senior Vice President/Communications Ann Marie Cumming said the decision was “not only the right outcome, but critical to broadcasters’ ongoing service to their local communities. NAB and our members look forward to working with the FCC in the coming year to take a deeper look at the regulatory fee process to ensure all stakeholders that benefit from the Commission’s work are paying their fair share and that those currently subsidizing the Commission are no longer paying for work unrelated to their industries.”