Big Regulatory Win for the Broadcasters Will Lessen Fees

The FCC adopted its proposed FY 2023 regulatory fee schedule which will result in approximately $7 million of savings for the broadcast industry compared to last year. For the past several years, NAB has argued that the Commission’s fee methodology unfairly results in broadcasters effectively subsidizing FCC work being conducted for the benefit of other regulated industries. This year, the FCC finally addressed our concerns more holistically and agreed to revise its methodology to reallocate some costs away from broadcasters and more appropriately onto other Commission regulatees.

As a result of the reallocations, the broadcast industry’s share of the total regulatory fee burden will decrease by 12% compared to FY 2022, and this is despite the FCC’s overall budget increasing by approximately 2%. In addition, the FCC finally capitulated to NAB’s arguments regarding the unique burdens that regulatory fees place on small radio broadcasters and reduced the fee amount for several categories of small radio broadcasters below the de minimis level, including all those serving populations of less than 10,000. These small broadcasters will therefore be exempt from paying regulatory fees. Individual, non-exempt broadcasters will see fee reductions of 5-7% across the board compared to FY 2022.

The FCC has also committed to continuing to evaluate the work its employees perform as part of its annual fee process, and we are hopeful that this ongoing review will result in even more equitable fees in future years. We will keep a close eye on the FCC’s regulatory fee process as we move forward and urge the Commission to further refine its methodology and bring in other fee payors (e.g., Big Tech) to ensure that broadcasters are not paying any more than their fair share of regulatory fees.

We are very grateful for our collaboration with the many great state broadcast associations across the country on this effort. I would also like to specifically call out the herculean efforts of Assistant General Counsel Emily Gomes, who I can say with complete confidence outworked and outmaneuvered advocates in every other industry to help achieve this fantastic result.

Rick Kaplan, NAB Chief Legal Officer and Executive Vice President,
Legal and Regulatory Affairs