The American Cable Association (ACA) on Friday noted that it “appreciates” the progress the FCC has been making to shrink the gulf in regulatory fees paid by cable and IPTV providers and Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) providers such as DISH Network and AT&T-owned DirecTV.
But, it said in comments filed with the Commission on Thursday (6/21), the time is now for the FCC to complete its incremental phase-in of DBS fee increases. In its view, this would ensure a level playing field among firms competing in the same marketplace.
“ACA applauds the FCC for its steady march toward parity,” said ACA President/CEO Matthew M. Polka. “However, it is now time for the FCC to complete the journey and adopt an identical rate for DBS and cable television/IPTV providers. As the FCC has recognized again and again, the burden on Media Bureau full time employees (FTEs) of regulating and overseeing DBS and cable/IPTV providers is ‘roughly the same.'”
For fiscal year 2018, the FCC is proposing to collect 77 cents per subscriber, per year from cable/IPTV providers. By comparison, it is seeking 48 cents per subscriber from DBS operators.
Polka wants the FCC to consider a compromise rate.
“Although fiscal 2018 levels represent a decrease for cable and an increase for DBS, ACA believes the FCC should establish 67 cents as the fee for both cable/IPTV and DBS to establish fee parity,” he suggests. “Completing its journey toward parity now is totally justified by the roughly equivalent burdens that cable/IPTV and DBS place on FCC personnel in the Media Bureau.”
While the ACA recognizes that the FCC adopted a “phased-in” approach since 2015 to DBS fees to avoid sudden and large changes in the amount of fees, ACA says that achieving true parity between cable/IPTV and DBS providers by setting both fees at 67 cents would raise DBS subscribers’ monthly bills by less than 3 cents over 2017 rates.