For those of you doing annual reports or the like, below are summaries of the 2019 FCC filings made on behalf of the State Broadcasters Associations through NASBA. The result of the Regulatory Fee filing was an across the board reduction in 2019 radio reg fees that averaged a 10% fee reduction. The EEO proceeding is still ongoing.
Scott R. Flick | Partner
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
In the Matter of Review of EEO Compliance and Enforcement in Broadcast and Multichannel Video Programming Industries, MB Docket No. 19-177. Comments filed on November 4, 2019. Your Association, in combination with the state broadcasters associations of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, filed extensive Reply Comments in this proceeding noting the questions raised by federal appellate courts as to the constitutionality of the FCC’s EEO Rule, and the corresponding need for the Commission to more narrowly tailor the rule to meet constitutional requirements and thereby lessen the burden on broadcasters. Additionally, the Reply Comments advocated eliminating the FCC’s program of random annual EEO audits of broadcasters, as such audits are costly, burdensome, and have proven unproductive for both the FCC and broadcasters, as they have merely confirmed what is already known—that broadcasters have an excellent record of compliance with the EEO Rule despite the extensive paperwork burdens that entails. The Reply Comments also opposed numerous proposals submitted in the proceeding that would have only served to make the EEO Rule more burdensome without any countervailing need or benefit.
In the Matter of Assessment and Collection of Regulatory Fees for Fiscal Year 2019, MD Docket No. 19-105. Comments filed on June 7, 2019. Your Association, in combination with state broadcasters associations across the country, filed extensive Comments in this proceeding advocating for significant reductions in the FCC’s proposed regulatory fees for radio and television stations in 2019. The Comments argued that the FCC’s proposed regulatory fees were in part based on defective data, and that the process used to allocate fees among the various industries regulated by the FCC unfairly shifted FCC “overhead” costs to radio and TV stations in the form of higher regulatory fees. The Comments also argued that the FCC had failed to release adequate information to determine how it had allocated various costs among regulated industries, and that more transparency in the process is required to meet the FCC’s statutory obligations, as well as to permit outside parties to analyze the process and bring errors to the FCC’s attention. Finally, we noted that Congress had last year passed the RAY BAUM’s Act of 2018, which altered the FCC’s congressional instructions for setting and collecting regulatory fees, and that the FCC’s proposal for 2019 regulatory fees failed to comply with those new requirements to the detriment of broadcasters.