Some hopefully helpful hints for fee filers
Now that the excitement surrounding the announcement of the deadline for 2012 regulatory fees has died down, we all face the grim process of actually paying those fees. Here are some tips that might help the beleaguered broadcast reg fee filer.
How much are you on the hook for? If you’re looking for a quick way to determine the reg fee applicable to any particular AM, FM, TV, FM translator or TV translator/LPTV/Class A station, you can run a quick search at http://www.fccfees.com/request_all.htm. Provide either the station’s call sign or FCC Facility ID number, hit the “submit” button and voilà – you should see the station in question listed, with its licensee and facilities all spelled out along with the fee due for that particular station. The fee listed there does NOT include any auxiliary licensees – STL’s, remote pickups, that sort of thing – used in association with the listed station. You’re on your own to track those down and make sure any necessary fee(s) is/are paid.
Exempt or Non-exempt? Some licensees are exempt from reg fees. Most of you exempt folks know who you are, but if you have any doubt about what the FCC’s records show on that score, running a fee search at the link in the preceding paragraph will clue you in. Exemptions are available to licensee entities that are tax-exempt under federal or state law. To be FCC reg fee free, you’ve got to send the FCC documentation proving that you’re tax exempt. Such documentation could include the 501(c)(3) letter you got from the IRS or certifications from your state government confirming your tax exempt status. You can submit your documentation by email to ARINQUIRIES@fcc.gov, by fax to 202-418-7869, or by mail to
FCC, Office of the Managing Director
445 12th Street, S.W., Room 1-A625
Washington, DC, 20554
It should go without saying that, in addition to the documentation itself, you should also include enough information to permit the FCC to know precisely which stations would be subject to the exemption.
Trust but Verify! As we have mentioned in earlier posts, it’s important to double- and triple-check any fee-related information that the FCC’s system might pre-fill for you. We’ve previously reported on at least one mistake in the FCC’s system in 2010. This year, we have already heard from one faithful reader who, hoping to get ahead of things, tried to file some reg fees when she learned from our post yesterday that the payment window was open. She reported to us this morning that a number of her company’s stations, for which fees had been paid in previous years, were not pre-listed in the FCC’s Fee Filer system this time around. Take-home message: use information pre-filled by the FCC, but only after checking it first for (a) accuracy and (b) completeness.
Looking for Payment Type Codes? When you finally get to the point where you’re entering your fee information manually into Fee Filer, you’ll need the Payment Type Code (PTC) for each separate licensee/fee you enter. If you run a fee search with http://www.fccfees.com/request_all.htm, the search results will include the PTC for that license. You can also find a listing of fee codes at http://www.fccfees.com/feecodes.htm. Heads up though. The search function does not provide information about auxiliary licenses, and the fee code list does not include a PTC for auxiliaries. To see what auxiliaries the FCC thinks you’re using, you can check the GENMEN database (we recently provided some search instructions in this STL-related post). Once you’ve got a fix on that, the rest is easy, as long as you know that the PTC for all broadcast auxiliary licenses is 1269.
More, mainly general, information is available at the FCC’s Reg Fee page. Again, though, the reliability of all the information on that page is less than certain. For example, included among the links along the upper left side of the page is one identified as “AM & FM Search Fee”. We’re not including a link to that URL here because, as it turns out, the search currently (as of August 14, 2012 at 11:30 a.m.) provides only last year’s reg fees. It wouldn’t be prudent to rely on the results of such a search for 2012 fees.
Another example – the following FAQ copied from the FCC’s page (also on August 14, 2012 at 11:30 a.m.):
While that particular datum was (and technically remains) accurate, it’s not especially helpful for anyone looking to confirm the deadline for 2012 fees. Some updating by the FCC would appear to be in order . . .