For a fourth consecutive year, the radio industry is facing higher annual regulatory fees.
The Federal Communications Commission has released its outline for how much each station will pay with annual assessments jumping by 13% from a year ago. The increases had been expected after the Biden administration’s proposed FCC budget for the coming year was increased to $381.95 million.
Under the plan, the FCC would continue to base its fees on how many employees there are in the various bureaus that work with that industry. For radio, that is primarily the Media Bureau where 120 of the FCC’s 329 full-time employees work. Based on that number, the FCC says it must collect $139.31 million from industries regulated by the Media Bureau. That is more than a third (36%) of the overall total collected.
When that total is divvied up among individual stations, the proposal released by the Commission (MD Docket No. 22-223) would charge all but a handful of AMs in the smallest cities a thousand dollars or more. For the biggest FM signals in the largest market, the proposed annual fee is $23,585. That is a 13% increase from the fee charged in 2021. The biggest AMs in the largest cities would be charged $18,885, which is also 13% higher than what they paid last year.
Based on current estimates, the FCC figures it will collect $33.1 million from radio stations this year, including $22.5 million from FM station annual regulatory fees, plus another $10.6 million from AM owners.
Various other FCC fees will go up 13% as well if the Commission adopts the proposal as drafted. That includes the charge for an AM construction permit that would increase to $690 – it was $610 last year – while the fee for an FM construction permit would climb from $1,070 to $1,210.
The FCC in 2017 doubled the threshold for the so-called “de minimis rule” to $1,000—that’s the amount under which a company need not pay a regulatory fee if what they owe falls below the figure. The theory is that the cost of processing small payments results in a net loss to the U.S. Treasury. But the proposed 2022 fees would put nearly all radio stations above that $1,000 threshold.
The National Association of Broadcasters has proposed that the $1,000 limit be raised in order to help the smallest operators. The FCC agreed to at …….