Payment of FCC regulatory fees for FY 2020 (which cover the period October 1, 2019 – September 30, 2020) is due by 11:59 PM Eastern Time on Friday, September 25, 2020.
Regulatory fee information for FY 2020 can be found here. The general regulatory fee schedule can be found in Appendix C to FCC’s Regulatory Fee Report and Order, which can be found here. The specific fee assessed for each broadcast station can be found in Appendix G.
Payment of regulatory fees must be initiated using Fee Filer, the FCC’s electronic filing and payment system. Payments received after the September 25 deadline will be subject to an automatic 25% late fee and interest charges. There is no grace period.
The FCC has taken several steps to address the financial hardships created by the Covid-19 pandemic. These include:
• Permitting parties seeking fee waivers and deferrals based on financial hardship reasons to make a single request for both by electronically submitting those requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Temporarily waiving Commission rules so that parties seeking extended payment terms for FY 2020 regulatory fees may do so by submitting an email request to the same email address: email@example.com. Requests for installment payments can be combined with waiver, reduction, and deferral requests into a single request.
• Reducing the interest rate the Commission charges on installment payments to a nominal rate, and eliminating the down payment the Commission normally requires before granting an installment payment request.
• Recognizing that proving financial hardship during the Covid-19 pandemic may require different documentation than the Commission typically requests, and directing the Managing Director to work with licensees individually if additional documents are needed. Documents that licensees can use to show financial hardship include: tax returns, a balance sheet and profit loss statement, 12-month cash flow projections, and a list of officers and highest compensated employees. Licensees may also choose to include documents demonstrating the pandemic’s specific effect on their business such as: banking and investment account statements, credit card statements, monthly cash receipts and disbursements, accounting ledgers, and loan documentation, including balances owed.
• Temporarily waiving the “red light rule,” at the Managing Director’s discretion, to permit licensees that are experiencing financial difficulties and that owe other debt to the Commission to request waivers, reductions, deferrals, and installment payment terms for FY 2020 fees. Licensees that benefit from a waiver will, however, be required to resolve all delinquent debt by paying it in full, entering into an installment agreement to repay the debt, and/or curing all payment and other defaults under existing installment agreements.
An entity requesting a waiver, deferral, or reduction will still be required to meet the same public interest standard the FCC has always employed—that is, showing that it “lacks sufficient funds to pay the regulatory fees and to maintain its service to the public.” Licensees that have been hurt by the pandemic, but not to the extent required to receive a waiver, reduction, or deferral, will be eligible to pay their FY2020 fees in installments. They will be required to provide documentation showing that they do not have the funds to pay the fee in a lump sum by September 25, 2020 but could do so with extended payment time. Licensees that think they may need a waiver or installment plan for their regulatory fees should submit their requests as soon as possible so the FCC has time to respond prior to the September 25 deadline.
If you have questions about fee payment procedures or need assistance preparing fee payment documentation, please contact any attorney in our office.