FCC Getting Rid of UHF (Fee) Discount)

Reform of Regulatory Fees also Includes Assessing Fees on IPTV in 2014 for First Time

The FCC has already decided to get rid of one UHF discount.

That is according to its just-released order on new regulatory fees--the annual fees it charges licensees. The commission has not decided how to treat Interet Protocol TV, but says starting in 2014 it will be IPTV and cable in the same regulatory fee category.

That said, starting in 2014, it will charge UHFs and VHFs the same regulatory fees, rather than charing UHF's less, as it has been doing.

The FCC has also proposed getting rid of the 50% discount UHF stations got in counting their viewers towards the FCC's 39% ownership cap. In both cases the change is meant to reflect the fact that in the digital age, UHF signals are better than VHF's, which used to be the gold standard in the analog era.

According to the order,  low power, Class A, and translator/booster stations still broadcasting in both analog and digital will only have to pay one regulatory fee.

Also starting in 2014, the FCC will collect regulatory fees from IPTV licensees and will put cable television and IPTV in the same category. It decided not to include DBS providers in that category "at this time."

Also starting in 2014, all regulatory fees will have to be paid electronically, and the FCC will push to get its money sooner from scofflaws. "[B]eginning in FY 2014, unpaid regulatory fees will be transferred for collection to the U.S. Department of the Treasury at the end of the payment period rather than 180 days thereafter."

The FCC is recalculating the number of full-time employees assigned to regulating different services, but will put a cap of 7.5% on any increased fee that results from that calculation, though that is only a temporary step as it reforms its regulatory fee program more broadly, which it will tee up in a Second Notice of Further Proposed Rulemaking it says will be out shortly.