FCC Announces Regulatory Fees Due for FY 2013

by Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released its annual Report and Order showing the regulatory fees due for the 2013 fiscal year. Although the due date has not yet been announced, it will likely be in mid-September. The fees are intended to recover the Commission's cost of operations, estimated to be nearly $340 million, but capping fee increases over last year at 7½%.

For most services, fees are based on FCC licenses and permits held as of Oct. 1, 2012 (the first day of the 2013 fiscal year), although cable TV rates are based on the number of basic subscribers as of Dec. 31, 2012. Where there has been a subsequent assignment or transfer of control, fees are to be paid by the current permittee or licensee as of the payment due date in September. Noncommercial stations and all nonprofit entities are exempt from paying regulatory fees.

Although a summary of fees is shown below, the FCC website contains more information about the exact amount of fees owed, including fees for services not mentioned below. Note that the FCC will not be mailing out any notices of fees due. Fees paid even one day late will be subject to a 25% penalty plus administrative processing charges, so timely payment is critical. Unlike the IRS which uses the mailing date to determine timeliness, the FCC requires regulatory fees to be received by the due date to avoid late payment penalties. Licensees or permittees that fail to pay their regulatory fees in full will not be able to get FCC action on any subsequently filed applications pursuant to the Commission's "red light" policy until all fees and penalties are paid.


AM and FM Radio



AM Class A

AM Class B

AM Class C

AM Class D

FM Classes
A, B1 & C3

FM Classes B, C, C0, C1 & C2








25,001 – 75,000







75,001 – 150,000







150,001 – 500,000







500,001 – 1,200,000







1,200,001 – 3,000,00














VHF Commercial Television (same rate structure as last year)

                                                                                                 2012                       2013
                Markets 1-10                                                        $80,075                 $86,075
                Markets 11-25                                                      $73,475                 $78,975
                Markets 26-50                                                      $39,800                 $42,775
                Markets 51-100                                                    $20,925                 $22,475
                Remaining Markets                                              $5,825                   $6,250
                Construction Permits                                           $5,825                   $6,250

UHF Commercial Television (same rate structure as last year)**

                                                                                                2012                      2013
                Markets 1-10                                                        $35,350                 $38,000
                Markets 11-25                                                      $32,625                 $35,050
                Markets 26-50                                                      $21,925                 $23,550
                Markets 51-100                                                    $12,750                 $13,700
                Remaining Markets                                              $3,425                   $3,675
                Construction Permits                                           $3,425                   $3,675

** This is the last year the FCC will distinguish between VHF and UHF stations.

LPTV, TV Translator & TV Booster                   $410 per license (2012 = $385)
(Only one fee due even if station is simulcasting analog and digital signals)

Broadcast Auxiliary Stations                             $10 per call sign (2012 = $10)

Broadband Radio (MDS/MMDS) & LMDS          $510 per call sign (2012 = $475)


Cable Television Systems                                 $1.02 per subscriber (2012 = 95¢)

Cable Antenna Relay Service (CARS)              $510 (2012 = $475)


CMRS Mobile/Cellular Services                        18¢ per unit (2012 = 17¢)

CMRS Messaging Services                               8¢ per unit (unchanged)

Microwave (includes Domestic Public Fixed Radio)
Microwave licensees must pay a $20 annual regulatory fee per year, payable for an entire ten-year license term at the time of application for a new, renewal or reinstatement license. The total regulatory fee due is $200 for the ten-year license term.


Earth Stations                                                    $275 (Unchanged)
No fee for receive-only Earth stations.

Licensees and permittees will be able to pay by wire, credit card, check, money order or debit card, although all payers will need an FCC Registration Number (FRN) and a completed "Fee Filer Form" 159-E prior to filing. The FCC will discontinue accepting checks and paper filings as of Oct. 1, 2013, following which all payments and filings will have to be made online.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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