Cable Ops to FCC: Dish, DirecTV Should Pay More

Say Proposed Fee Increase Not Enough

Cable operators want satellite operators to pay more in FCC regulatory fees.

In a joint filing at the Federal Communications Commission, the American Cable Association and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association said satellite's 2015 fee of 12 cents per subscriber is not enough, given that cable operators will have to pay eight times that, or about 95 cents per subscriber.

The operators want the FCC to double satellite's portion to 24 cents per year for 2015 and add another 24 cents over the next three years, reaching fee parity between satellite and cable in 2018.

The comments came in response to the FCC's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order issued by the FCC in May to correct what FCC commissioner Ajii Pai called a long-time imbalance in the treatment of MVPD programming distributors.

The FCC ordered that DBS be added to the fee category that included cable and IP services, then asked for comment on its proposed fee, including whether the proposal to start low -- 1 cent per month -- and phase in the increase would address satellite operators' argument that that would avoid consumer bill shock. Satellite operators also argued they generate nowhere near the regulatory costs of cable companies, which is why their rate should not have been raised at all.

The NCTA and the ACA had pushed for putting DBS in the same fee category as cable, and to charge fees per subscriber rather than per satellite license. But they want the FCC to raise the rate by more, and faster, than the commission proposed.

The organizations told the FCC that it should reject the rate shock argument. They said 24 cents for the first year would cause a rate increase of just one tenth of one percent for a DirecTV subscriber, for example, assuming the lowest-cost introductory price and assuming DirecTV passed along the entire cost.