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NAB Says FCC Fee Hike for Radio Stations is ''Inexplicable''


National Association of Broadcasters
National Association of Broadcasters

In Reply Comments to the FCC, the National Association of Broadcasters writes that the FCC's adoption of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for at least the second consecutive year "utterly fails to explain its rationale as to how its methodology for determining regulatory fees." The trade group wrote that "this abject failure is compounded as the Commission proposes increasing fees on radio broadcasters not only where the Commission's overall budget remains flat; but also, where broadcasters are facing unprecedented harm to their operations as a result of the current pandemic."

"The Commission should not proceed with its proposed regulatory fee increases when such fee increases could jeopardize the ability of struggling broadcasters to stay on the air, and when the Commission's approach violates the law by not properly explaining the basis for the increases nor tying them to any discernible increase in the work performed on behalf of broadcasters or thebenefits received by broadcasters as a result of the Commission's efforts.

"In addition, the Commission must use its authority to reform its fee collection and waiver processes to ensure that its collection of regulatory feesdoes not hobble broadcasters' ability to recover from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"As the record demonstrates, the proposed regulatory fee increases for broadcasters should be reconsidered as they fly in the face of the statutory mandate that the Commission when adjusting regulatory fees must take into account 'factors that are reasonably related to the benefits provided to the payor of the fee by the Commission's activities.' The Commission's proposed increases to broadcaster regulatory fees bear no rational relationship to any increase in costs the Commission has incurred in regulating the industry or any increase in benefits that broadcasters may have supposedly received as a result of the Commission's work.

"Instead, the increases are created from whole cloth as a means for th eFCC to solve a math problem. According to the NPRM, the number of direct FTEs in the Media Bureau increased by a mere 0.8 percent, from 115.1 to 116 from FY2019 to FY2020. Yet the Commission proposes to increase the Media Bureau's overall share of regulatory fees by 1.37 percent, and therefore impose an average percent increase in regulatory fees on radio broadcasters. Such an increase for radio stations is inexplicable," wrote NAB in the Reply Comments.

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