The Federal Communication Commission has listened to small market broadcasters who opposed the across-the-board 1.8% wholesale rate increase it implemented August 30 for its application fees.
After receiving several comments from concerned broadcasters about the fee hike, calling the new pricing schedule “burdensome for small and independent radio and television stations,” the FCC acquiesced.
“Extending some relief to these small radio broadcasters may facilitate their continued ability to stay in business and serve their small and rural communities,” the Commission said in a September 2 report and order showing its change of heart.
The new FY 2016 AM and FM radio station regulatory fees are as follows:
FCC TO PUERTO RICO: NO RELIEF FOR YOU
Meanwhile, the FCC declined to review a proposal submitted by the Puerto Rico Broadcasters Association and Arso’s UNO Radio Group – owner of island-wide cadenas Salsoul, Hot 102, Fidelity and NotiUno.
The PRBA and Arso argued that the severe economic downturn in Puerto Rico makes such an increase difficult, and that they previously requested a fee reduction. A proposal for a Puerto Rico-only fee at 30% lower than the normal rate for each station was offered by PRBA and Arso.
“While we recognize that the economic situation in Puerto Rico is difficult in general, without the specific information needed to justify a waiver request or payment deferral we would not know the particular circumstances of the regulatee or licensee to support a request for relief,” the FCC said in its response, declining the PRBA/Arso proposal.
The FCC explained that fee relief is ordinarily processed through a waiver request or payment deferral, while also noting that the fee relief for stations serving fewer than 75,000 people “should provide some amount of fee relief to 11 of the PRBA stations.”
UNO Radio Group’s stations would likely see no relief, as their stations reach the more than 3 million residents of Puerto Rico, given their island-wide coverage.
The FCC’s application fees are reviewed every two years to reflect adjustments in the CPI.