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NAB Asks FCC to Clarify Radio Regulatory Fee Increases


NAB
NAB

With the passage of the 2018 Ray Baum's Act, Congress intended to better calibrate the regulatory fee system in line with the "benefits provided to the payor of the fees," NAB wrote a reply comments filing with the FCC. NAB is now calling on the Commission to provide further explanation for the unusual increase in proposed regulatory fees, which is not clearly explained in the NPRM and appears unsupported by Commission data.

It seems the NPRM imposes a steep increase in radio station regulatory fees disproportionate to other fee payor categories, as well as the increase in the Commission's overall budget. NAB claims the proposed radio fees are also based on flawed data and says the agency "must address the ambiguities in both the radio fees and the new fees for satellite and VHF stations to meet its statutory obligation to entities the FCC deems responsible for paying regulatory fees."

The record supports NAB's view that increasing the radio industry regulatory fees by 18-20 percent is unjustified and disproportionate to the overall 5.3 percent increase in the FCC's budget, wrote the trade organization. "The NPRM's inexplicable decrease in radio fee payment units of nearly 800 radio stations from 2018 is inaccurate and reflects a flawed methodology for calculating radio stations."

Additionally, NAB says the NPRM's baffling reduction of nearly 800 payment units in the radio industry and subsequent hike in regulatory fees is based on flawed data. NASBA notes, this makes little sense as the number of radio payment units in 2019 dropped dramatically from the "relatively steady number" of units in the past six years. "As a result," NAB wrote, "remaining stations must shoulder a larger share of fees allocated to the radio industry."

In conclusion, the reply comments state that "given the flawed data and lack of transparency contained within this NPRM, NAB renews its call for further explanation of the proposed regulatory fees for the 2019 fiscal year. The radio industry faces a steep increase disproportionate to the overall budget."

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