FCC Annual Regulatory Fees Due

Date/Time
Date(s) - 09/25/18
All Day

from Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth

While we all hit the beach for the last time this Labor Day weekend, the FCC today released the final listing of regulatory fees for 2018 and their due dates. Although the FCC has not yet activated the Fee Filer system for 2018 regulatory fees, we expect that to happen very soon.

Fees must be paid by Tuesday, Sept. 25

As is normally the case, the fees adopted by the Commission all track reasonably closely with the fees as proposed in May (the only fees that have changed are those for Interstate Telecommunications Service Providers and for International Bearer Circuits). For the most part, the specific fees for 2018 (with a few exceptions) represent decreases from the amounts due in 2017.

As has always been the case, failure to pay regulatory fees on time can have serious consequences, including: a late payment penalty of 25 percent of the unpaid amount assessed immediately after the deadline; additional processing charges for collection of late fees; and administrative penalties, such as withholding of action on any applications from delinquent parties, eventual dismissal of such applications, and even possible revocation proceedings.

Consistent with recent procedure, don’t bother reaching for your checkbook when you’re ready to pay. Under the electronic filing regime, regulatory fee payments must be made electronically (i.e., by online ACH payment, online credit card, or wire transfer). That means, no checks, money orders, bags of pennies, monopoly money, or anything else physical.  Also, no Bitcoin or other virtual currencies.

The maximum payment that can be charged to a single credit card on a single day remains at $24,999.99, which applies to both single and bundled payments. If you owe more than $24,999.99 for a single license, you will not be permitted to split up the payment into multiple payment transactions, nor will you be permitted to pay over several days by using one or more credit cards. The FCC recommends that anyone expecting a fee obligation of $25,000 or more consider using debit cards, ACH debits from a bank account, or wire transfers.

If you aren’t familiar with the FCC’s online Fee Filer system, we recommend that you not wait until the last minute to try to figure it out. It’s not especially user-friendly or intuitively obvious. (Of course, if you don’t feel like doing it yourself, you can always ask your communications counsel to help out.)

You can log into the fee filer system here using your FCC Registration Number (FRN) and password or your CORES username and password, generate a Form 159-E (which you’ll need to tender as part of the payment process), and then get on with the payment process. (If you’re paying by wire transfer, you’ll have to fax in your 159-E.)

When it comes around to figuring out exactly what you owe, just a heads up: While Fee Filer will ordinarily list fees associated with the FRN used to access the system, the list of fees shown in Fee Filer may not be complete. (The same is true for the broadcast regulatory fee “lookup” page the Commission usually provides.) As a general rule, it’s the payer’s responsibility to confirm the fullest extent of the payer’s regulatory fee obligation so double- and triple-checking other FCC databases, as well as your own records, is prudent.  In one continuing bit of good news for broadcast filers, there are once again no fees due for broadcast auxiliary licenses.  It is also worth noting, as the FCC made a point to, that all television licensees who held a license on September 30, 2017 must pay regulatory fees, even if they have since relinquished that license as part of the Incentive Auction.